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Raley’s Family of Fine Stores is honored to be named Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 Wine Star Award Winner for the “Retailer of the Year” in the United States. Wine Enthusiast cited the grocery chain’s courage to reimagine its wine and spirits category and turn it into a thriving business. The honor is particularly highly regarded because the nominees are determined by an impartial panel of experts from the industry.
“Through our education efforts, we seek to broaden customers’ options for eclectic and affordable wines,” said Curtis Mann, Raley’s Director of Wine, Beer, and Spirits. “The team at Raley’s has been working hard over the last three years to develop a premiere department and greatly appreciate Wine Enthusiast’s recognition of these efforts.” Mann completed the distinguished Wine and Spirits Education Trust diploma and is sitting for the theory portion of the highly respected Masters of Wine Examination in June 2017.
In 2013, Raley’s began a transformation of its Wine, Beer & Spirits department to match its already best in class meat, seafood and fresh service deli offerings. The improvements included inroads into classic regions of the wine world as well as diverse offerings from California, Oregon and Washington at all price points, expanding Raley’s selection significantly.
The following year, the chain began hiring in-store wine stewards who help customers understand the exciting but complex world of wine. Now, more than 30 Raley’s Wine Stewards have completed extensive training in the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and have passed the WSET level 2 exam. Many of the Wine Stewards host a weekly educational tasting centered around a wine region or varietal, offering customers exposure to new regions, varieties and brands.
“We are curating a relationship with customers by offering an even more extensive selection of wine,” said Keith Knopf, Raley’s Chief Operating Officer. “The wine department will continue to be a meaningful and significant part of how we serve our customers and differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
Raley’s continues to commit resources to the wine department with the installation of temperature controlled Borgon cases for high-end Wine Shop stores, as well as the creation of wine and beer bars in several stores. As the department has expanded, Raley’s has been able to secure allocations of highly sought after wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany and California, as well as developing programs with small producers and importers who typically sell only to restaurants.
Raley’s moves into the future promising to become an even more eclectic and innovative Wine, Beer & Spirits retailer.
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