This week’s feature is the Spiritus Wines which is the second to last piece of this wonderful We Love Hartford project. Spiritus offers wine tastings twice per week on Thursday (4-6:30) and Saturday (1-4), fun and knowledgeable staff and a wide array of wine and liquors to choose from. It was a pleasure to learn the history from the Owner, Gary Dunn
Hartford Girl: Why did you start Spiritus?
Gary: I purchased Spiritus Wines in early 2006 from the founder. He and his wife had started the business in 1982, so we've been in business in downtown Hartford for more than 32 years! In the early 1980's the wine market landscape in the area was essentially just package stores, no store was focused on artisanal, small production wine with a goal of identifying high quality, high value wines to offer customers.
This remains our mission at Spiritus today. All of our wine selections are based on my daily tasting sessions with distributors in search of quality bottlings that deliver authentic characteristics of the grape varietal and the region in which its grown for an attractive price. And we then personally assist every customer who comes in to the store to help them find the right bottle matching their taste preference and the occasion.
There are thousands of wines available in the marketplace. In the U.S. we get wines from around the world. It can be very confusing, not to mention they're not all worth you're hard-earned money! Believe me, you don't need to see a thousand cabernets to choose from. You're better off with 100 good ones in a range of prices. That's the critical service that Spiritus provides.
Hartford Girl: What is your biggest challenge with running Spiritus?
Gary: One of the most significant on-going efforts we have is educating the general public about the value of small producers. The U.S. wine market is dominated by big brand name, highly-marketed companies that produce millions of cases a year. We prefer to feature small wineries, often family-owned and operated, that create wines born from their passion to produce the best possible wines from their own meticulously cared for vineyards. And the value is superior because you're not paying for marketing campaigns or pricing based on brand positioning. With small producers, it's all about the wine!
Fortunately, the wine culture in the U.S. has evolved significantly over the last 30 years. The current generation of 20-somethings has embraced wine more than any previous generation. And with the popular farm-to-table movement in food, people better understand the importance of the product source and artisanal production. Plus, it's very exciting now with the recent explosion in numbers of craft beer brewers and small craft distillers of spirits. The whole concept of small production by incredibly passionate folks is helping to nudge the market away from industrial products.
Hartford Girl: Why did you choose Hartford as the home for Spiritus?
Gary: When Spiritus first opened in 1982, the Hartford area in general was under-served for boutique wine. After purchasing the business in 2006, I pursued relocating it to a busier, more centrally-located spot in downtown to better serve our Hartford customers (and have much better curbside parking!). But Hartford also works well for us in serving our numerous suburban customers who receive our monthly newsletter with a dozen new wine features every month. We have also always offered free delivery service so a central location helps us reach out in all directions.