Right off Orlando Avenue in Winter Park, behind an unassuming beige warehouse sliding door, is a room packed with the most delicious wine in the world. The owners have traveled all over, tasting their way through the best winemaking countries across the globe, so that they can share the best of the best with their customers.
Wine on the Way owners Adam and Gigi Chilvers curate the wine like a collection, but one that could entertain grandiose or lean budgets. Their most prominent slogan is they sell only 90 point or higher rated wine. Their wine selection right now ranges from just $11 to hundreds of dollars, with lots of choices at every price point.
“We try to demystify and simplify wine for people, to make it less intimidating,” Adam said.
They’re not about selling a brand or status symbol, it’s about offering the best through educating their customers and being approachable for all questions, said business partner and friend Eric Kunichika.
“Great wines can come in screw top bottles that are $15,” he said.
Adam has owned wine stores in Winter Park since 1997, when he opened Wine Country on New England Avenue after graduating from Rollins College when he was 22. When he felt the cost of operating a brick-and-mortar storefront wasn’t beneficial to business growth, he opened Wine on the Way in 2008 – the economy’s decline made his lower-cost concept more appealing to the changing customer mindset. Through the years, he’s grown a following of loyal local customers, but now gets to sell his wine selections worldwide.
And there isn’t a wine in the warehouse that he hasn’t tasted. On average, he and his wife Gigi will taste 20 to 30 wines a week. When he travels to wineries, it’s wine tasting from morning ‘til night. He’s been to nearly every country known for wine making, and has tasted some of the best wines in the world straight from the barrel, before it even hits a bottle.
“Research and development is kind of fun,” he said with a big smile.
Work often goes home with the Chilvers couple, too. They’ll bring wine to taste for the first time, and note taking has to happen. They share wine with friends — who are all wine fans — to get their opinion on a bottle they’re thinking about selling. But, especially when they’re home, it definitely doesn’t feel like much work at all. Wine is a part of their everyday lives, business and personal. They’re passionate about how it can elevate a meal or time spent with family and friends. They have wine with every dinner, be it pizza or a fancy night out.
“There’s always wine at our table,” Adam said.
“It brings people together,” Gigi said. “It wants you to sit there and talk there and gather.”
Adam and his friend and business partner Kunichika both individually told of how they can share great times like going to a sports game, and name the exact wine they drank together. It could be years ago, but the wine adds a little something to the memory.
“I don’t know if it’s the wine or the moment, but the wine is the seal of that moment,” Kunichika said.
“There’s something about the pleasure of not only wine itself and the art of winemaking, but those who have that same passion, and to be able to share it, it’s like art,” long-time customer Victor Zollo said. “Those that enjoy a great glass of wine, totally understand that.”