Photo courtesy of Willie Sowell | Total Wine & More

The Charlotte-area wine scene is one that caters to a broad audience. There are the 2019 newcomers, like Davidson Wine Co. and Barcelona Wine Bar, and more time-honored traditions like Dilworth Tasting Room, Foxcroft Wine Co. and Vin Master. 

Whether you’re a wine novice or seasoned aficionado, there is something within the vibrant and ever-growing local wine landscape just for you. Here are three options to help you find your way.

The Guru: Willie Sowell

If you’ve visited Total Wine & More in Concord or follow its Instagram page, then Willie Sowell is a familiar face. Fans of the now-closed wine shop Cork & Crate may also recognize Sowell, who worked at the Plaza-Midwood nook for much of the three years it existed.   

A retired insurance industry executive turned wine knowledge extraordinaire, Sowell is a fixture in Charlotte’s wine community.  

“I moved here five years ago as a retiree, looking for something to occupy my time,” he said. “After obtaining my Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level II Certification from Johnson & Wales, I decided to turn this into a career.”

Sowell has leveraged social media platforms and in-person classes to further his professional goal of bringing wine education to the masses. 

Those interested in taking a deeper dive into the world of wine can reap the fruits of Sowell’s labor via monthly wine classes offered at the Concord store.

With recent offerings like a spotlight on all things bubbly, and upcoming classes featuring cheese and chocolate pairings, these classes are a hidden gem.

For $20, participants spend two hours learning the background and geography of the featured varietal wine (wine made from a specific winegrape) before a tasting of at least eight wines paired with food.  

Total Wine & More, 8054 Concord Mills Blvd., Concord

The Venue: Davidson Wine Co.

Lindsey Williams at the soft opening for Davidson Wine Co. on Aug. 1, 2019. Photo: Qcitymetro

Real estate attorney and wine lover Lindsey Williams opened Davidson Wine Co. in August, and it’s literally in a class of its own. 

Davidson Wine Co. is the town’s first urban winery, meaning local wines are made using grapes imported from across the globe. It’s appealing to a variety of tastes with its selection from over 50 wines, a variety of small plates, and a growing number of entertainment options like live music, cupcake classes and yoga. 

Williams said, “Even if you’re not a wine drinker, there’s a wine here that you would like.”

Davidson Wine Co., 121 Depot St., Davidson

The Meetup: Conversations + Connections

Conversations + Connections is a new addition to Charlotte’s wine scene that is grounded in a love for wine and a desire to help fill the wine education gap. It’s the brainchild of Myeisha Hamilton, a Charlotte native and human resources professional/entrepreneur, and Denean Jackson, founder of D’Nicole Home Decor.

“We wanted to make connections and have conversation over something we’re all interested in…and that is wine,” Hamilton explained.

Conversations + Connections officially launched earlier this month at Davidson Wine Co. The group plans to meet quarterly to showcase a variety of wines, gradually moving in true wine connoisseur fashion from dry to sweet.  

All meetups will be held at Davidson Wine Co., highlighting Hamilton’s unwavering commitment to supporting Black-owned businesses.  

“Our goal is to grow the group in partnership with Davidson Wine Co…to grow the network of wine lovers and sense of community in Charlotte,” she explained.

For more info about Conversations + Connections, email conversationsconnections@gmail.com.

Sabrina Clark is a NY native who enjoys the South, but still loves the perfect view of a city skyline. She’s a social worker and child advocate who finds her zen by enjoying all that Charlotte has to...