Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Raleigh's bottle shop shares a passion and vision for wine and beer

Annette Henson owns the Greenway Beer and Wine shop in Raleigh.


Dathan Kazsuk | January 25, 2017

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Five Questions With ... is a new series that we'll be featuring in 2017. The premise of this series is to spend some time with local small businesses or people in the community or state that we feel are doing something great or unique. 

Greenway Beer and Wine's Annette Henson opened up her bottle shop for the love and social aspect of craft beer as well as the joy of sharing the telling stories of her adventures around beer. Growing up in Missouri, Henson, after graduating high school, started working for the Department of Natural Resources. There she worked construction in addition to designing and maintaining hiking trails.

At the age of 24, she then joined the United States Marine Corps. While in the service, she started to branch out and that is when she tried many varieties of wine and beer. She still recalls coming back to the U.S. after a 9 month deployment in Iraq where she had a layover at an airport in Ireland.

"This was the first drink I had in nine months," says Henson. "I asked for the largest pour of the bartender's favorite beer. It was dark and amazing. I mark that experience as the official jumpstart to my beer and wine adventures."

After her active duty ended in 2010, she went to Raleigh's Wake Technical Community College where she completed her Associates in Science. Then she got a job working at Wine 101 in Wake Forest, keeping the glasses clean. After time her role continued to grow ... from working part-time for a year she moved her way up to full-time, and then the beer program manager for the Raleigh location. "Shortly after, I managed the entire Raleigh location," Henson says. "I continue to be grateful for my three year tenure at Wine 101. I learned more about wine than I ever expected, and my passion for great beer only grew as the days flew by."

After leaving Wine 101 in mid 2016 she dove head first into opening her own shop. On October 1, Henson had the official soft opening of her own creation. With an assortment of wine and beer, tastings, food trucks and a loyal following, Henson is now living her dream. We recently caught up with Henson for our latest 5 Questions With ... Below are excerpts from the conversations.

You are the owner of Greenway Beer and Wine, which is located on 7530 Ramble Way in Raleigh. What made you decide to open your own bottle shop? I decided to open my own craft beer and wine shop because I wanted to share my passion and vision with others. I enjoy getting to know my customers and figuring out their palate, so I can find new beer and wine that they will love and be excited about. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into opening a shop like this, but it is my passion, so it is, and will be, worth it.

So we've heard horror stories of opening a brewery or bottle shop. What's the largest hurdle you had to leap through in order to make your vision happen? There are a lot of hurdles opening a beer and wine shop, especially if you plan on using actual glassware to pour drinks into. The whole health code for bottle shops does not exist. We get treated like a restaurant, even though we don't serve food. Dealing with all the extra stipulations of the restaurant health code is the most frustrating part of the build for me. 

Related Story: Five Questions With ... Raleigh realtor mixes wine with real estate

So what would you say you learned from your experience with Wine & Beer 101 that you have brought to Greenway Beer and Wine? I will say from my previous three years experience, that it is not only difficult to run a beer and wine shop in the beginning, but it stays that way because everything is always changing. North Carolina is growing in the beer and wine industry. I grew up on a farm, so I am very use to working nonstop – so this is not new to me. I'm not sure how I stay sane, but at the same time I'm not sure I ever was. I have turned my garage into a relaxing spot for me, so that's where I am when I am relaxing. I have all the things I enjoy in it: There is a beer fridge, gun safe, television, relaxing couch, my dogs and my wife in her recliner, all out in the garage. That is definitely my happy spot.

Working at a bottle shop you must have a divinity for wine and beer, or course. What would you say is your favorite style of beer. As well as your favorite varietal of wine? What about other selections such as ciders or Sake? It is very hard for me to pick my favorite style of beer, as I love IPAs and sours so much. But we will go with IPA as my favorite beer style, just because I can drink more of them than sours before my taste buds quit working. My favorite style of wine is easy. I love the big and bold red wines. I call them dirty wines, because every sip you take, it taste different and better. I enjoy how the big wines open up and evolve as they get more contact with the air. We are working on our cider and sake section here at Greenway. As the gluten free movement keeps evolving, so does the need to excite everyone's palate and that's where the cider and sake section comes in.

What would be the best advice you'd give to someone who might want to venture into opening their own bottle shop in the future? I would say the best advice I would give someone looking to open their own shop is take the time and do the research, so you know exactly what you want. The image of your store should be something you are proud of and that will reflect your personality. If it is a happy place for you, your customers will feel that and be comfortable there too. I did my research and knew exactly what I wanted when I built my shop, so there is very little I would change.

Greenway Beer and Wine is located at 7530 Ramble Way, Suite 103, Raleigh, NC

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