CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room in Tucson is turning 5 years old and will celebrate with a Grand Wine Tasting outdoors in a tented pavilion this coming Saturday, September 22, 2012, from 2:00pm to 6:00pm. You can bet there will be some serious high fives, clinking of glasses, and pats on the back with its owner.
Architect and owner Yvonne K. Foucher’s business concept of opening a classy little wine shop in Tucson where all wines were priced at $15/bottle or less was well-thought-out and should have been a slam-dunk, based on the best projections at the time. Instead, her journey could be compared to the Poseidon Adventure, a 1969 movie loaded with an unlikely cast of characters trying to escape a potentially catastrophic voyage. The movie’s plot centers on a luxury liner’s voyage when the ship is overturned by a tsunami caused by an underwater earthquake. CataVinos’ passage through five tumultuous years has been likewise filled with tsunami-like detours, drama, taking on too much water, and a whole lot of overcoming adversity at every port.
At approximately the same moment Foucher opened the doors to several hundred fabulous, potential customers on that inaugural day in September 2007, the economy tanked globally. Although the curious tasting crowd and wine-buying base grew in number, people were rapidly losing jobs and savings, and obviously buying less; sales suffered from the start. Then, within months, two big-box wine retailers took up residence in Tucson, backed by national marketing campaigns. Bev Mo opened two locations nearby, and Total Wines threw open its doors—all complete with full-color multi-page advertisements.
How was a small Tucson business to cope in this sort of market? Stubborn Foucher kept her doors open and dug deeper to stand her ground. It wasn’t so much about who could sell the cheapest wines; it became more about who knows the most about what they sell and what were the best wines available for the money; plus the growing cast of CataVinos characters that could be enjoyed while discovering one’s palate. A ‘board of taste-testers’ emerged from the customer base; they dedicated week nights and/or Sundays to evaluating shop-worthy wines with which to stock the shelves. CataVinos quickly became a community project and all who participated became part of the ‘success.’
Then along came Summer. Most Tucson retailers will cringe when they talk of the summer months; this town has seen too many fine eateries, specialty shops, and well-seasoned businesses throw in the towel during the dry-heat-without-customers months. But CataVinos’ loyal customer base held tight; the place became the community center for a fun-loving diverse assembly of wine lovers, most of who faithfully attempted to do their duty to help this special little place survive.
One year. Two years. Three years. Four. Can you believe this is year FIVE and Foucher still hasn’t closed the doors?
In the ill-fated Poseidon Adventure, we fretted as actress Shelley Winters tip-toed precariously through the ship’s rickety rafters and dove through the waters to safety, even though she couldn’t even swim—all with Gene Hackman’s urging, of course. Well, as far as I know, Gene hasn’t shown up at CataVinos yet. It’s been the loyal friends and patrons who have witnessed Foucher hold her breath, dive right in, hang on with white knuckles, and tread lightly to keep the shop alive with boundless value wines and rousing wine tastings. We’ve never even asked her if she was afraid of water.
At the same time, Foucher has reciprocated by helping patrons become ever-curious about all wines, select the right ones for dinners and gifts, and meet new friends who bring more to our lives. Actually, CataVinos has evolved into one of the coolest places in Tucson to just hang out, even if it’s for an hour or two each week to taste wines, or just to stop by, pick up a few bottles, and rub Cuvee’s belly (shop dog) to help us through the day.
Pour Me Some Grapes offers a rousing cheer to the little shop that could, wishing smooth sailing to Yvonne, Cuvee, and the entire crew at CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room for another fabulous five years. Thank you, from the bottom of my wine-loving heart.
Nearly 40 specially selected wines will be poured by Arizona wine distributors at the Grand Wine Tasting celebrating CataVinos’ milestone. Light appetizers and palate cleansers will be served and yes, there will be music! Each patron will receive a free commemorative etched lead-free crystal glass and choice of tastings for $18 admission. All wines in the shoppe will be 10% off that day only. Voted Best of Tucson by Tucson Weekly, CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room is located at 3063 N. Alvernon Way at Presidio. Hope to see you there!