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Date with wineglasses

A small wine shop in a south St. Louis County strip mall is drawing wine lovers from the metro area and beyond.

The Wine Cellar Outlet, 11553 Gravois Road, couples discounted pricing with an unusual inventory that includes small-production wines.

The store is one of 13 in 11 states owned by the Wine Cellar Group, a privately held company based in Buffalo Grove, Ill. The company partners with wine clubs, including NPR Wine Club, Virgin Wines and WSJwine, to fulfill orders.

Store manager Jackie Palazzolo says their “diverse selection of boutique-style wines” are not easily found at other retailers. “It sets us apart,” she said.

Palazzolo said business has grown dramatically in the store’s 4 ½ years open, thanks, she believes, to word of mouth, a referral program and emailed alerts sent to customers about upcoming promotions and tasting events.

The store offers deep discounts for bulk purchases — 15% for six bottles; 35% for a case; 45% for two cases; and 50% for five cases — and frequent promotions, including 65% off on a recent Friday.

Shopping at the outlet is a bit of a treasure hunt because you never know what you’ll find. Just a few examples include a vermentino from Côtes de Provence, a red blend of montepulciano and cesanese from Rome, and a chardonnay from Sicily made partially from grapes that underwent a special drying process called appassimento to concentrate the flavors.

It also sells a variety of popular labels including such names as Veuve Clicquot, Silver Oak, Caymus, Duckhorn, La Crema, Meiomi and even Missouri’s Stone Hill.

“It’s nice because we can build relationships and get to know our customers’ tastes,” said sales associate Meagan Vorce. “It’s fun to work here because we are helping people explore new wines that we think they will really enjoy.”

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