House Wine Enjoys Growing Popularity
Five years ago, Donnie Austin spent his days working as a quality engineer at Honda and his evenings pursuing an MBA at Ohio State. When time allowed, he headed to the nearest wine tasting event to pursue his growing interest in wine. During his last quarter at OSU, Austin enrolled in an entrepreneur class, and opening a wine shop became his class project. By now, you can probably see where this is headed—especially if, like so many others, you’re already a fan of House Wine in Worthington. Today this popular destination is part wine bar and part retail shop—and Austin is the owner, general manager and certified sommelier.
If the story sounds like a dream-come-true, it is—at least for Austin who has no regrets about the career change. Nevertheless, there have been a few bumps in the road. For instance, the shop’s
opening coincided with the recession, forcing Austin to dig deep for innovative ways to attract customers. He started by hosting fundraisers, and these events have been wildly successful. House Wine simply donates a portion of its revenue to the charity, along with a percentage of any retail sales during the event.
Regular wine tastings have been equally successful. “It’s an opportunity to try the wines before you buy them,” Austin said. “We can then suggest other wines based on what people like in the (wine) machine.” Thursday evenings are reserved for a more traditional tasting experience. For $15, you get four to five wines, cheese and flatbreads.
House Wine is also a popular destination for experiential packages. In this case, House Wine and The Candle Lab, which is next door, share customers. From girls’ night out, to showers, to couples get-togethers, people can make their own candle and then sip a glass of wine while they’re waiting for the candle to set.
Austin, who lives in Worthington, says the community has been extremely supportive of the shop. “There is a good core of people who like to spend their money in Worthington as much as possible,” he said. “They understand that part of our mission is to educate people about wine and what we offer.”
For more information about House Wine, visit http://visitworthingtonohio.com/house-wine/. Both wine aficionados and novice sippers will also want to check out the Columbus Wine Collective, an organization of six independent wine retailers, at http://columbuswinecollective.com/.