Looking around our original wine shop, early visitors to Malivoire could be sure of one thing only: “retail is here today”. With its concrete floor, folding table and duct-taped electronics, the store looked anything but permanent, and for good reason. Because it shared space with two functional 18,000-litre tanks, retail was designed to be bundled up and rolled away whenever winemaking required. Also influential was the fact that Martin, preoccupied with planting his vineyards and establishing winemaking principles, was not yet convinced that the new winery was ready to add retail to its regular operations. Nevertheless, if only on weekends, the doors to the early wine shop remained open.
The shortcomings from a hospitality point of view were obvious, and improvements came gradually. By fall 2000 the wine shop was open on an almost daily basis and soon, the concrete floor was tiled over. The folding table gave way to a more attractive and capacious serving bar, which, however, in a continuing concession to winemaking priorities, was still mounted on castors.
By our tenth anniversary, the trappings of the store explicitly declared, “retail is here to stay”. Gone were the tanks, making space for the construction of a well-appointed, permanent bar. Other embellishments included illuminated display shelves and a glass ceiling to allow winery visitors to view the production area without having to share its noise and occasional spray. As customer traffic grew, the wine shop took over an adjoining room, giving it space to host private tastings and special events, or simply relieve congestion. Another popular addition was saved for outside: a licensed patio where visitors can enjoy a glass of wine, nestled between the winery and our hillside vineyard.
As retail has grown in size and scope, staffing has had to keep pace. The weekend visitor who twenty years ago would have been greeted by one or two employees would now find a staff of eight or more on a typical summer Saturday.