Photograph By Evan Mah
When Kyla Cox of Kirkwood’s newest wine shop, Savor Wine Boutique, said she would be stocking wine from Georgia, I secretly hoped that she was referring to the country. I didn’t even know if the country made wine, but I assumed that whatever grapes were there had to be better than anything from this Georgia.
She was, of course, referring to our peachy state, and as we tasted a 2008 Tiger Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Franc from Clayton, a strange thing happened: I liked it. Minimal oak with hints of green pepper and a fruity-forwardness were all the signs of a friendly New World cabernet franc.
The bottle was but an example of Cox’s eclectic wine selection. Throughout the store, bottles from Uruguay, Hungary, and Portugal showcased vineyards I’d never heard of before. Even the labels from France, Spain, and Italy I hardly recognized. Perhaps best of all, a majority of them were in that attractive $15 to $18 range (her most expensive bottle is a $60 Amarone).
I sat down with Mrs. Cox earlier this week to find out more about her shop, which opened last week, her background, and the obstacles she faced in the process.
You’ve been doing food and wine for quite a while.
Wine has always been a big part of my career. My background is corporate marketing and event planning. Back in those days, if I were putting together an executive meeting or dinner and I’m doing the menu and food selection, wine goes hand in hand. When I left corporate America, I started my own event planning company called National Party Starters, also known as Atlanta Party Starters. I did that for five years and then launched a new division called Grape Crush Productions, which focused solely on food and wine events.
How did you go about selecting the wines that are now in this shop?
All of our wine is artisan in nature, which means small-batch limited production. We really try to work with smaller, family-owned vineyards. We’re trying to introduce some obscure grapes and some varietals people may not know about. As an example, we’ve got a wine from Hungary and the grape is furmint, a medium-body white wine varietal. We’ve also got a wine from Uruguay and the grape is tannat. In one section, we’ve called out some of our eco-friendly wines where we have organic wines, fair trade wines, bio-dynamic wines, and even vegan wines.
Because our wines are small batch, our assortment is constantly changing. There’s always something new to find. We have about 100 bottles of wine and we want to stay in that sweet spot of around 125. We want to keep the production limited because we want the wines to be special. Special doesn’t mean pricey though, and the majority of our wines retail for under $25.
How did you pick these wines?
I have a senior wine consultant and between the two of us, we have curated wines that we would drink. This weekend we had a new distributor come in, and we opened the tasting to the public. We listened to the feedback, and what the customers liked and purchased ended up on the shelves. We want to know what the community likes and what they don’t like. It’s a collaborative process between us and the neighborhood.
How long has this shop been in the works?
It’s been a part of my five-year business plan for my food and wine event marketing company. We just turned five earlier this year. This shop has been in the works in the last eighteen months or so.
Originally, you wanted to open in September. What happened?
That was our goal. The city had other things to say. As soon as you find your space, you do all of your paperwork very early on, submit it, and then it’s a waiting game. We were literally ready to open the first week of September but there’s nothing you can do until you get your final license.
How did you pick this particular space in Kirkwood?
We fell in love with the community. The community has a natural affinity for wine and this past September was the 7th Annual Kirkwood Wine Stroll, for which we curated all of the wine. We also liked the mixed-use development. Finding a walkable neighborhood is not as easy as you might think in Atlanta. We like the walkability of the area, and the people who live in the townhouses upstairs can come down and grab a bottle of wine for dinner. It’s also central to downtown, and we have many corporate clients.
What has been the hardest part about opening up your own wine shop?
The waiting that we had to do in the extra two months when we were ready. For me, I’m a planner and do-er and just not being able to do anything for two months was the most challenging part.