Oftentimes when you visit a smaller wine region, you’re hard pressed to find wine from anywhere outside of said region. And that’s totally understandable — they want to highlight the wines of their area. However, after a day of sipping delicate Pinots in the Willamette Valley – you may want a big, bolder Cabernet with your steak dinner. After hours of tasting 14+% abv wines from Santa Barbera, a lighter & crisper Riesling from the Mosel might sound good. Or, if you’re in the Champagne region, you . . . well, never mind. If you’re in Champagne, you likely don’t want anything else!
So when Hubs and I were in my beloved Washington state last week, as much as I love Walla Walla wines, we were thrilled to see a recently opened bottle shop that sold wine and beer from outside the Walla Walla region. I’m talking waaaay outside the region . . .
Taking over a large 4,000 square foot space on Main Street, The Thief Fine Wine and Beer officially opened on May 4, 2018. (“May the 4th be with you”? I don’t know if there was any Star Wars connection to their opening date, but I do know one of the owners is a serious Harry Potter fan as he was sporting the trademark mustard and burgundy striped scarf when I met him.)
Lining the store’s back wall is an impressive selection of local Walla Walla wines (priced the same as what you’ll find in the wineries themselves) as well as beer and cider from around the globe. And in the center of the room . . . truly, a wine geek’s paradise. Pinot Noir from Valleé d’Aoste, Zweigelt Rosé from Niederösterreich, and a Sassicaia from Bolgheri (I spied this bottle one day, the next – it was gone). Having worked in a wine retail store, I can attest to the fact that The Thief’s prices are incredibly reasonable and there is a bottle for every budget.
Besides a fabulous selection of wine, The Thief also carries – and I’m quoting Hubs here directly – “an absolutely kick ass beer selection.” It was clear to him that the beer was on par with the wine and was similarly from all over the globe. Of the new owners, clearly one of them has a penchant for top shelf beer.
In addition to taking a bottle home with you (or popping it open on premise for a nominal corkage fee), The Thief also has several glass pours available. On our visits (true confessions: we went there 3 times – but we can explain!), these offerings included an Alsatian Sylvaner and a Canaiolo Rosé from Tuscany. Now, I’ve been in my fair share of wine bars and stores (another true confession), but I have never seen these wines offered by the glass. I love an adventurous by the glass program – it’s a perfect way to introduce people to some lesser known grapes and regions!
Their handwritten tasting notes are some of the best I’ve seen. And nary a critic’s score in sight – which also gets a huge thumbs up from me. But if you need a recommendation – look no further than The Thief’s knowledgeable and friendly staff.
On our first visit, we met “Curly Matt”. Not to be confused with “Non-curly Matt” (or another employee named Matt whom we didn’t meet). We also chatted with two of the owners, Emily Riley and Kyle Pottroff when they hosted a lunch for some of the Wine Bloggers Conference attendees. And they did not scrimp on the wines they served that afternoon – starting us off with a Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc!
Since opening, The Thief has had several wine tasting events ranging from Bubbles Galore (aka Everything BUT Champagne!), to Rosés to Tour of Tuscany. Future plans include a wine club, temperature controlled storage lockers for members and a myriad of wine related events – including wine classes. In fact, my favorite wine instructor – the fabulous Reggie Daigneault – will be doing a seminar on Bordeaux at the Thief later this month!
We don’t get to Walla Walla as frequently as we used to, but Hubs and I will definitely be visiting The Thief next time we’re in town. Oh yeah, and as a follow up to my previous post with Hubs – WE FINALLY FOUND THE ROSÉS!!