Once Upon a Vine
Ratings: 60 | Reviews: 56 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by belgianjunkie:
4.8/5 rDev +4.3%
quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
I just moved to NC- one of the last five states in the country with a law against high-alcohol beers, but don't get me started on that. So I studied BeerAdvocate, and wrote a list/got directions to the top five beer stores in Richmond, and kicked off the roadtrip.
Once Upon a Vine was the first store I went to. I found their Belgian beer shelf and rack on the far right of the store immediately, and was very impressed with the selection- aside from stores in Belgium and France, I've never found a better Belgian selection, including serious hunts in San Diego, Providence, Boston, Phoenix, and other big areas.
I was lucky that the person working at the time was Pat, the resident beer expert. Nice guy who could tell I knew my beers so he went from salesperson-mode to beer fan, and we talked about our faves that they had in stock. He was helpful too- helped me dig out a few of the display beers I couldn't find in the rack, and made a few suggestions that were absolutely no pressure- just chatting.
Prices ranged from surprisingly great to slightly high. The shocker was that bottles of Delirium (Tremens AND Nocturnum, the latter of which I haven't seen sold elsewhere in the states) was less than $7 for the large bottle! The highest prices of what I purchased were two 12 oz. Trappist Rochefort 8s for around the same price apiece, which I felt was a bit of a splurge (but worth it).
But the wide selection makes up for any of the few slightly higher-priced beers. They have the typicals like Duval, Chimay, La Chouffe, and Gulden Drak, but they have hard-to-find beers like La Binchoise Reserve, Hoogstraten Poorter, Grottenbier, MacChouffe, and others. Amazing: they carry Cantillion's Rose de Gambrinus, which you can't even find in Belgian markets; I've seen it sold in only three places: Once Upon a Vine, Bier Tempel in Brussels, and the Cantillion brewery itself, in outer Brussels. I can't speak of their selection for anything BUT the Belgians, as I concentrated solely on that small but excellently-stocked area, but for this alone, they're VERY impressive.
Not perfect though- I asked if they had any gueuze, and Pat said they haven't found a distributor yet, but he's still on the look-out. If they get gueuze too, they'll be as "perfect" as an American store selling Belgian beers can be. If they get a stellar gueuze like Cantillion, Lindeman's Cuvee Rene (seen it sold in San Diego), or minor miracles Girardin or 3 Fonteinen, and phenominal, non-gueuze Caves beer, they'd be so "perfect" I'd remove the quotes and say they're better than most Belgian night shops. However, as I said above, they have the best selection I've seen states-side, so I still feel confident in giving them the full five BeerAdvocate points for selection.
For formality's sake, the place is just off of a main road yet approaching a residential area, but is easy to find with the help of an internet mapping site if you don't know the area. They were playing some hard rock music. They're bigger than a typical mom-n'-pop store and a third to half of the size of a BevMo. But who cares about that stuff- it's selection and pricing that matter, and they ace those categories. OH- and every beer I bought was well within it's freshness date, where applicable, which does matter for certain (but not all) brews.
So, after one stop, my beer-stocking roadtrip was already done. The other four places? I never bothered- there was no need. And next month, once my supply is out, I'll be going straight back to Pat (or whomever's there) at Once Upon a Vine, and ONLY there- why drive all over a city when I know they've got a completely satisfying selection at fair-to-great prices?
08-12-2005 13:08:07 | More by belgianjunkie
More User Reviews:
4.64/5 rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Dropped by the store on the 16th. Had just about everything I was looking for and then some. Very helpful and actually remembered me from when I called and asked about the selection. Great selection. Even gave me a discount at checkout. Definitely worth checking out. You will not be disappointed. They had a boatload of 120 minute IPA and a great selection of beers that I can't find in NC. I have gone to a few stores around the area and they were fairly reasonable if not cheaper for the most part.
08-19-2012 04:46:14 | More by rwhite757
3.8/5 rDev -17.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$
Located not too far from the intersection of 64W and 95. but a little tricky to find tucked into a residential neighborhood.
Big cooler selection. A little less in the way of room temp product. Always has one or two things the other shops in town don't. Got the, relatively new to me, Singel from Hardywood and didn't find that at my other three stops in town. Also a couple of CC selections that didn't show in other shops.
Service is ok, but not terribly great. You get what you need, though.
12-08-2011 02:23:45 | More by beer2day
4.72/5 rDev +2.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I live only a few Miles from the Once Upon a Vine Northside, and I routinely get my stuff here. They get the popular new stuff from DFH (120 min) and Founders (Blushing Monk), but they also have a nice selection of belgians and german beers if you stick more closely to style. Obviously, that have a massive wine selection, in which case (not to be sexist, but in my case), I can bring the girlfriend in there and she'll be entertained.
Usually pretty busy on the weekend, so the guys sometimes can't help every second that you might be in there, but its a great local beer store. World class selection, I have never gotten a old batch and I shop there once a week for two years.
08-15-2011 14:33:48 | More by YumYumGumGum
4.11/5 rDev -10.7%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
visited here this past weekend while in richmond. saw some positive reviews so i figured it was worth checking out.
sort of a dumpy looking shop from the outside. when i pulled up i actually thought it was totally closed. inside is pretty busy. lots and lots of bottles in not a lot of space. pretty standard as far as most boutique craft bottle shops.
selection is where this place dominates. i actually took a few laps just in awe of some of the stuff there. most notably was some of the vintage bottles they had. my go-to bottle shop here in arlington is a local Total Wine, which if comparing has an enormous american craft selection (relatively common stuff) but is definitely lacking in desirable cellar/rare beers. this place was the exact opposite. boatloads of hard to find beers as well as some serious vintage bottles. i really enjoyed the european selection. downside to these rare beers is the price tag on them, but honestly i didnt think it was too expensive.
the gentleman working there at the time was helpful with the few questions i had and also had some comments for the bottles i was buying, which is always nice to hear.
overall, i would have to say this is one of the best bottle shops i have been to and is a must check-out if you are in richmond and looking for some quality scores.
03-23-2011 00:59:34 | More by Jimmys
4.88/5 rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
After trying a few of the similar shops in Richmond, I am sold. This place may fly a bit under the radar, but has the best single-bottle selection I have seen. The staff are extremely nice and are willing to help out.
The layout is the only thing you can knock a few points off of, but only because they have so much stuff...which cancels out any negative thoughts. They have the most singles, except for maybe total wine, but it seems the selection is so much better.
I highly recommend this place over any of the other beer/wine shops in Richmond.
03-11-2011 17:55:54 | More by jdb8507
Once Upon a Vine in Richmond, VA
100 out of 100 based on 60 ratings.