“Come on in. I just finished putting the wine away about an hour ago,” says John Noakes as I enter Off The Vine Wine & Spirits, a wine shop in Norwalk. “I had about 100 cases just sitting in my basement.”
Off the Vine is a work in progress; a paint brush lies in the corner waiting for use and the shelves have a few empty spaces awaiting bottles. Still, Noakes is well on his way toward reopening the store in its new location. The shop, previously situated on the corner of Spring Hill Avenue, is moving across town to Winfield Street. The space has its own legacy. It once housed the original location of Fountainhead Wines before it became a part of Fat Cat City on Wall Street.
Off the Vine is a relatively small operation. Noakes owns and works in the store full-time and has two people who assist him part-time. The new location is physically petite as well, even more so than the previous shop. Don’t let the size fool you though. The shop offers an enviable collection of boutique wines.
“Having a small store poses its challenges, but it makes it so that your taste has to be spot on,” explains Noakes. He strives to offer only the best products to his customers and tries to find unique, small production wine.