Earlier this week, I sat down with Lamar Brown, engineer and corporate drone by day and wine connoisseur and entrepreneur by night. His cozy shop just off King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Carafe Wines, is the city’s only “micro-winery,” allowing customers to sample and then bottle their own wines. With grape juices shipped in from vineyards in Chile, California, New Zealand, Italy, France and Washington, to name a few, it may not be the most green method, but he’s created a truly unique niche for delightfully aged wines made right in good old Alexandria.
Having lived in Northern Virginia for 10 years, Lamar had a vision to take his extreme interest and admiration for good wine to the next level. His dream was realized two years ago, and now, he proudly allows his customers to make their own wines and their own private labels.
Nestled between a gorgeous marble bar and a bustling fireplace, I sampled the Rosso Miscele Reserve, a Tuscan-styled wine vented from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and later a dab of the Merlot Reserve, a full-bodied wine with hints of red cherries, toasted oak and herbs. Then we sat down to business and focused on Lamar’s storied history with wine, the DC area, and, of course, what wine pairs best with Matchbox sliders.
What inspired you to start Carafe Wines?
Actually, a love of wines, to be honest. And I saw a cool niche. The whole wine making experience actually originated in Canada. I ran into it there, and I worked with a lot of Canadians to bring the concept to DC. I did some research, and DC area is actually the second most wine-centric area in the country outside of California. So, we sell more bottles per capita than anybody. I thought people would get a cool kick out of being able to make their own wine.
So, why do you think DC is the number two area for wine purchases in America? Continue reading →