What comes to mind when you think of wine? Is a full glass of vino something you enjoy on a regular basis? Or maybe only on special occasions? Does it feel comforting? Or overwhelming, a reminder of roaming grocery store aisles, staring blankly into a sea of labels?
Wine is intimidating. It is perceived to be elitist, ageist… Even sexist. And in our world, we really try to make it very easy for the consumer to understand that it isn’t.
In this month’s Client Spotlight, Sal Medina, owner and proprietor of Packing House Wines, helps bust these common wine myths as well as share the story of how his own wine business has grown since its opening in 2007.
Home Sweet Home
Located in Claremont’s iconic Packing House, Packing House Wines actually came to Claremont completely by accident. While looking for a house in the area, Medina found an empty building available for lease.
As he had been looking to open the shop in an academic area, Claremont seemed like a perfect fit. And once he got to know the people and the area a bit better, his decision was made.
Nearly 12 years later, Packing House Wines is proudly recognized as the longest-running business on the West side of Indian Hill. Medina shares that he never set out to have the best food, the best restaurant, etc. Instead, he set out to have a great place. To him, the fact that Packing House Wines has stood the test of time and is a place his guests want to keep returning to and even enjoy special moments at (5 engagements and 1 wedding so far!) – is all he could ever hope for.
It’s All About the People
With an early career in education, Medina has deeply infused his passion for continuous learning into his business. The location proudly boasts 2 Certified Sommeliers, 2 more studying to become Certified Sommeliers, and a company culture encouraging all staff members to become an Intro-Level Sommelier (at least!) after completing a year with the business.
His goal is for Packing House Wines to be that “expert opinion” that their visitors can come to so that each customer can feel confident in their purchase, knowing that the bottle they’re buying is exactly what they’re looking for.
In addition to being a source of knowledge for their visitors, the Packing House Wines team is exceptionally great at making this information accessible for anyone. Whereas wine can often feel stuffy or formal, Packing House Wines feels comfortable and welcoming. To achieve this careful balance, Medina carefully curates a monthly menu with “by the glass” options for every palate and price point.
Further, he is very conscious when hiring, seeking to fill his team with individuals of all different personality types. Since the visitors at Packing House Wines come from all different walks of life, he feels it is important to have a diverse staff to be able to relate to them. Additionally, Medina also looks for candidates who share the business’ core value of giving back. He’s interested in learning where candidates volunteer and what they are passionate about. After all, he shares, you can teach someone everything they need to know about wine – but you can’t teach them to be a good person.
Sound too good to be true? Believe it or not, the story gets even better. After proving their ability to succeed as a wine merchant, Medina knew his shop was ready for the next step. Between their ever-growing inventory and clear demand for a restaurant component, it was time to expand.
After a year of hard work and lots of DIY, the expansion was completed in 2011. Whereas the shop was originally known as Packing House Wine Merchants, this new phase meant something new for the business. With the unveiling of the new space, menu, and direction, the shop became Packing House Wines. Medina describes Packing House Wines as it is today as, “really two businesses under one roof: a restaurant and a wine shop.”
But you won’t just find any old restaurant at Packing House Wines. Medina’s commitment to using seasonal ingredients matched by ongoing innovation from Executive Chef Eric Rowse means you’ll never have a dull dish. The menu is constantly changing, focusing on a simple philosophy: “If you start with fresh, local ingredients, and make everything from scratch, your customer will know your heart and soul is in that dish.”
A client of SDP’s since 2015, Medina couldn’t be happier with the partnership our businesses have built together. Due to his active presence in the local community and Chamber of Commerce, Medina has known about Southland Data Processing since before he needed our services. He explains that a good payroll provider is a lot like a good attorney or realtor – a lot of the time you don’t have one until you need one. He shares,
When you’re a new business, you think that you don’t need it and can do it on your own. You view pennies as larger gains, but really some things are just not worth doing – like payroll. Sure, I could probably do it myself, but for the cost that SDP charges it’s just not worth the headache.
Packing House Wines began processing payroll in-house. However, after noticing a small payroll issue, Medina decided it was time for a more proactive payroll approach. Since moving over to SDP, the issue has been resolved with ease – and he hasn’t had any issues since! On top of that, he shares:
The people at SDP really enjoy what they do. It’s very hard to translate that over the phone, but it does come across with the team at SDP… It’s just amazing, everyone’s always in a good mood over there!
Sip, Sip, Hooray!
We love Packing House Wines, and we think you will too! If you’ve never been, then be sure to stop by and try some of the house favorites! This time of year, their Fried Brussel Sprouts are hands-down the restaurant’s best seller. Medina explains that the trick is to first core the Brussels to remove any trace of bitterness. They are then deep fried to unleash their natural sweetness, tossed with red wine vinaigrette, and topped with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Delicious!
Looking to make a meal of it? He also recommends their Poke Tostadas, and shares that visitors repeatedly tell him he has “the best burgers and fries around!” We could make this post a lot longer by describing all of Packing House Wines’ mouthwatering options… For time’s sake, though, we’ll leave you with just that small taste. But trust us, you’ll want to check out the full menu on their site. We hope to see you at Packing House Wines at the next Happy Hour!
SDP Client Spotlights: Celebrating Our Clients
Every month, we highlight one of our amazing clients with the SDP Client Spotlight. Here at Southland Data Processing, we’re in the people business, and strive to always put our clients first. If you or your organization is interested in becoming our next Client Spotlight, please contact us at [email protected] and we’d love to hear your story!
Photos by Packing House Wines