Old Woodward Cellar opens in downtown Birmingham

A New Way To Wine

Calling all wine collectors and wine lovers out there — a new specialty wine shop has opened its doors in downtown Birmingham.

Nick and Gina Apone

Since late November, Old Woodward Cellar (O.W.C.) has made a name for itself as a business that focuses solely on wine.

Owner and experienced sommelier Nick Apone always does his homework, seeking out top-rated bottles from regions far and wide.

Apone’s passion for wine developed during his late teenage years. At the time, he managed the bar at his family’s Italian restaurant in Detroit. He later segued into the retail business and began dreaming up the idea of opening his own specialty wine shop someday.

Nearly 12 years later, Apone’s vision has become a reality. He chose an equally passionate team of experts to assist in his business venture, including his wife, Gina Apone, and fellow wine fanatics Jarred Gild and Evan Barrett.

The O.W.C. building was formerly occupied by Birmingham Chrysler-Plymouth back in the 1950s. When Apone settled on the location, he was eager to preserve its rustic vibe.

He set out to maintain the concrete floors to capture that Detroit feel. He hired Ron & Roman LLC to add even more vibrancy to the shop with beautiful light fixtures and wood-paneled ceilings.

To ensure the wines aren’t damaged by harsh lighting, Apone uses strictly LED bulbs throughout the store. The glass windows and doors also have a thick UV coating to minimize the likelihood of wine damage.

Apone keeps the thermostat set to a brisk 63 degrees, so don’t be surprised to find him and the rest of the staff sporting multiple layers year-round.

Due to the temperature-controlled environment, the thousands of bottles resting on the eye-catching racks are in perfect condition. Apone categorizes them by region and marks each with a visible price tag. Bottles range from a modest $15 up to $15,000 for some of the high-end, rare wines.

While Apone primarily features wines hailing from California, Italy and France, he also carries some unique bottles from smaller regions in Spain, Portugal, Germany and even Lebanon.

 The O.W.C. team pride themselves on sampling every bottle and making sure it can be priced aggressively. “If it doesn’t taste good or if it’s not priced right, you won’t find it on the shelves,” he says.

When O.W.C. initially opened, Apone ran statistics on the top 50 wines sold by their distributors to popular Birmingham restaurants. He then placed a range of those familiar bottles on the four main wine tables throughout the store.

“When people walk in the door, they can feel comfortable — they don’t feel intimated,” Apone says.

The casual atmosphere at O.W.C. is apparent while sipping wine in the tasting room. Apone loves music and decided to feature song bites on the walls, which all reference to wine. Many customers will recognize these famous clips sung by an eclectic group of artists that includes the Eagles and Elton John.

While anyone is welcome inside, the vibrant tasting room is reserved for wine seminars geared toward businesses looking to add a splash of vino to a meeting.    

O.W.C. also offers tasting opportunities and notifications about unique bottle arrivals for members of its very own wine club. Wine lovers can sign up for a free membership any time by submitting their email address.

If a membership doesn’t appeal, O.W.C. customers can easily try before they buy. To maintain the freshness of the 80 bottles kept open for sampling, Apone uses a wine preservation tool called the Coravin, which allows pouring while the cork remains intact.

Once customers make their selection, they can take advantage of home delivery within 5 miles of the store or curbside pick-up, and they have the option to keep a credit card on file.

At O.W.C., patrons not only receive quality service, but also can rest assured that staff members are very knowledgeable.

Apone especially enjoys engaging in wine-related research in his free time. In his opinion, it can be challenging to keep up on the latest happenings in the wine industry. “It’s like technology,” he says. “Once you think you’ve got it, the next new phone is already out.”

If you’re eager to learn a bit about wine or are in search of a serious yet approachable wine shop, Old Woodward Cellar has it all.

912 S. Old Woodward Ave. #100, Birmingham
(248) 792-5452
Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, noon-6 p.m

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