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Tastemakers: The Digital Wine Shop

At Best Wines Online, Santa Ana’s hot new wine e-tailer with its bold sign visible from the 55 Freeway, shoppers can browse, and purchase by the bottle or case. So why do managing partners Kyle Meyer, left, and Tristen Beamon, formerly of Orange’s Wine Exchange, insist their business isn’t a brick-and-mortar? Because you won’t find the typical trappings of retailing—shopping carts, shelf signs, and cash registers—in the 12,000-square-foot facility that warehouses an inventory of more than 1,000 wines. Purchases are made online ahead of time or transacted in person via smart phone or lobby computer. Talking shop with Meyer, it’s clear the newbie operation has more innovations in store for O.C.’s wine-inclined.

You and Tristen worked a combined 32 years at Wine Exchange. What’s it
like to now be the competition?
Like the Lakers after winning their championships with Pat Riley: We had
a good run, but it was time to break up the team so the “kids” could make their own mark. I think [Wine Exchange owner] Steve Zanotti understands this painful-but-cordial transition. He taught us a lot about the biz and we respect him.

How is BWO different than WineEx?
We can be more selective buyers now that we’re free from the weight of brick-and-mortar issues—forward-thinking, media-driven, and not afraid to get our faces out there.

If they can’t taste the wines, how do customers get a feel for what they want?
Our website is packed with details, opinions, tips, deal alerts, and background on nearly every bottle we sell. We already have more online video content than any wine shop on the West Coast that we know of, and  we add six new videos every week.

How does your pricing compare to other boutique retailers, warehouse stores, megastores?
We’re already getting dirty phone calls from wineries telling us we’re too aggressive. But we know what people want. Hot wines at cool prices have a nasty habit of selling, whether they’re $5 or $5,000 bottles.

Any specialties in terms of countries, varietals, or styles of wines?
We currently lean toward young and old Bordeaux, the Rhone, Spain, Italy, Argentina. Other areas join that list as we find suitable wines.

Do you sell spirits, food, or accessories?
No spirits or food, and only a limited supply of truly useful accessories, such as the Vinturi aerator. No trivets, aprons or doormats.

Where is O.C. in the world of wine trade?
One of the brightest, most competitive markets in the country—so many great, independent retailers, all working on very low margins. Stores like Wine Exchange and Wine Club created the concept of the premium discount wine shop; we just hope to further it.

What’s missing from today’s retail scene?
Buzz, energy, and down-to-earth communication with the customer. Too often, wine-biz folks speak above the customer, not to them. We want
to change that with our videos, straight-shooting daily wine offers, and a convenient, unfussy location.

Describe your ideal customer.
Any wine lover. We learned early not to pigeonhole ourselves or our clientele.

Where do you dine out? Also, any great wine lists in O.C.?
Rosine’s in Anaheim Hills has the coolest list—lots of fun older stuff stashed by owner Hagop Najarian, a former sommelier at The Hobbit. Food-wise, I do love the pizza scene. Il Dolce, Ecco, Mozza. Marché Moderne always delivers. Downtown Santa Ana is coming on strong with Playground and the like. My family and I eat a lot at Brodard in Westminster. And the best Mexican food is everywhere.

What’s the top corkage fee you’ll pay?
$25 is where I tap out.

Sleeper summer wines—please give us a couple great values, will you?
2012 dry rosé wines are already looking strong. They’re a go-to grilling wine. Whites from Liguria and the Tuscan coast in Italy—vermentino, pigato—
are great. Spain is making great  inroads with godello, albariño,  and such. All under $20 a bottle! 

For more summer wine picks from Kyle Meyer, click here!

1544 E. Warner Ave., Santa Ana, 714-979-1509, bestwinesonline.com

Photograph by John Cizman

This article appeared in the June 2013 issue.

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue. - See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/dining/reviews/2013/05/28/main-course-brunos-trattoria#sthash.cBvH7BLq.dpuf

Photographs by Priscilla Iessi

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

- See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/dining/reviews/2013/05/28/main-course-brunos-trattoria#sthash.cBvH7BLq.dpuf

Photographs by Priscilla Iessi

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

- See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/dining/reviews/2013/05/28/main-course-brunos-trattoria#sthash.cBvH7BLq.dpuf

Photographs by Priscilla Iessi

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

- See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/dining/reviews/2013/05/28/main-course-brunos-trattoria#sthash.cBvH7BLq.dpuf

Photographs by Priscilla Iessi

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

- See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/dining/reviews/2013/05/28/main-course-brunos-trattoria#sthash.cBvH7BLq.dpuf

Photographs by Priscilla Iessi

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

- See more at: http://www.orangecoast.com/dining/reviews/2013/05/28/main-course-brunos-trattoria#sthash.cBvH7BLq.dpuf

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