Give Phil the credit
In the Hook's "Hot Seat" article of last week ["Rosé-colored glasses: Robert Harllee's wine-tinted world" July 7, 2005] an important fact was omitted. Since the interview was conducted in the shop between answering the phone, tasting with salespeople, and helping customers, my answer on the origin of the Market Street Wineshop was either too short or garbled.
Philip Stafford opened the Market Street Vine Shop in December 1979. Due to archaic Virginia alcohol laws, the original name was "Vine Shop" since wine could not legally be part of a store's name. The character and flavor of the Wineshop that continues to this day was created by Philip and his successor, David Fowler, from whose estate I purchased the existing shop in December of 1986.
Philip also briefly owned The Cellarmaster on Elliewood Avenue that he purchased from Halsey Blake-Scott (currently the owner of the phenomenal Sneak Reviews video store). The choice of the cellar location, the playful punning signs, the gestalt of our shelves and wooden-wine-crates merchandising, and the desire to find great unknown wines were all begun by Philip. I'm lucky to be able to continue what he started. My ex-partner Bill Bird talked me into purchasing the shop with him, for which I'm still grateful.
After he sold the shop, Philip started a wine importing business, USA Wine Imports in New York City, that handles the physical and legal aspects of bringing wine into the US for many small importers. Many wines in our market are imported by his company. He continues to run that business from Charlottesville where he now lives with his wife and daughter and where he has planted a small vineyard.
In December 1986 there were many good places to buy wine in Charlottesville: The Boar's Head Inn Store (managed by Elinor Howell, currently of In Vino Veritas in Keswick), the Rio Road Wineshop (my predecessor, David Fowler, was a one-third partner), the Monticello Wine Club (run by Bill Curtis, who is now the owner and chef of Tastings), Fleurie at Barracks Road (owner Tom Calder is now a wine importer. We stock some of his wines), and Foods of All Nations.
Robert W. Harllee
Owner, but not the creator of the
Market Street Wineshops, Uptown & Downtown