Former Oxheart sommelier Justin Vann announced today that he and partner Clayton Pierce have launched a wine consultation company called PSA Wines. The company will launch with
five six clients, and the first one it is talking about is Montrose beer store D&Q Beer Station. Shoppers can see the entertaining "shelf talkers" pictured above as the first evidence of Vann's handiwork.
He tells Chronicle critic Alison Cook that the remaining
four five are mostly ethnic restaurants that could benefit from someone with wine expertise. As for PSA's philosophy, Vann explains that "We believe its time for more closely edited, intelligently chosen documents rather than the dictionary-sized lists of yore. We also believe beer needs a more articulate voice in wine programs, and vice versa."
PSA Wines will also shoot videos that answer questions such as "where to buy wine and beer in Houston" and "which corkscrews work best for self-defense."
Read on for the full press release, which is written in the same style as Vann's always entertaining blog.
I've left my sommelier post at Oxheart restaurant to start a wine consultation company called PSA Wines. We take on restaurants, bars, and retail establishments as clients, and we help them with their wine and beer programs. But what does that mean, "help them"?
It can mean as little as helping an existing program tighten or expand the scope of wines. Or, it can be as involved as writing the entire list from the ground up. With every client, we are helping them achieve their goals both financially and aesthetically. We make sure their program is profitable and efficient, and we make sure it has earth-shatteringly delicious wine and beer.
We are doing this with the desires of our clients first and foremost in our minds. But make no mistake: we have an opinion of our own. We like wine and beer lists that take a stand. Why should a restaurant with a distinctive food program be obsequious in the beverage department? Wine lists, like kitchens, should have a point of view. We love a sprawlingly large wine list as much as the next geek, but we believe its time for more closely edited, intelligently chosen documents rather than the dictionary-sized lists of yore. We also believe beer needs a more articulate voice in wine programs, and vice versa. Tired are the squabbles of whether beer or wine goes better with food- what if they worked best as a team on the list? Like a zany 90's buddy cop movie?
"We" consists of myself and my longtime friend and partner in crime Clayton Pierce. Yes, I am starting a business with *another* person I went to high school with. In the early days of our friendship, we made just about every kind of alcohol imaginable as a hobby. It would only make sense that fate put us in a position to sell it together. Clayton is bringing a natural talent for technology and a whole mess of equipment to the table to head up our video department.
Oh yes, Video Department. PSA stands for Public Service Announcement, and we intend to create just that. We are producing educational videos, using our clients and friends as subject matter. I guess you could call it advertising, but for us it's much more than that; its education and entertainment. We intend to cover a wide range of topics like:
-Where to buy wine and beer in Houston
-Wines best suited to be displayed in rap or hip-hop music videos
-Pairing beer and wine with food
-Which corkscrews work best for self-defense
...And other nuggets of genuine information coated in a thick, delicious layer of hyperbole and self-deprecation. We are using video as the bullhorn to loudly support the wines, importers, restaurants, and people we love. Again, we have an agenda. We have cameras, editing software, and fancy lapel microphones. And we sort of know how to use them!
Here's the best part: we have already taken several clients under our aegis. As each of their beverage programs become ready for us to stamp them with our seal of approval, we will announce them to the public.
Maybe you have an idea of who they are and maybe you don't. We ask that you not try to out them before they're ready. Good beverage programs take time, and ideally we don't want anyone to be swarmed before they're ready to rock. However, because we love you, we'll reveal one that is fairly obvious:
Client #1 is D&Q Beer Station. D&Q is owned by Brandon and Vivian Nguyen, who have run the small beer shop for nearly a decade off of 806 Richmond Ave, in the heart of Montrose.
It is considered by many to be one of the best beer stores in the city. We've been shopping there for years, but we felt the small selection of wines didn't match the quality of beers that Brandon had sought from all over the world. One thing led to another, and now we're helping D&Q stock it's shelves with cutting edge, delicious wines. Right now the selection is small (approximately 10 labels), but it will grow to nearly 60-70 different labels as shelf space is freed up.
This is a wine selection powered purely by my own attention deficit disorder- these are the oddball wines that are captivating my imagination right now, or timeless classics that I feel are underrepresented. Because I won't be there to sell them in person, we have employed a cutting edge piece of sales technology: The Shelf Talker. A roll of tape, a sharpie, and a stack of index cards are my weapon of choice for this client. My handwriting is bad, but my heart is in the right place. These are not the politically correct shelf talkers you'll find at Whole Foods or Central Market. They are a little weird and twisted (like us), but the good news is that these wines are stunning. Don't overanalyze it, just go in and grab a bottle that looks interesting. After all, that's pretty much how one shops for beer at D&Q. The wines will never go over 30 dollars a bottle.
This is where you can go to buy the kind of wines that PSA intends to support. For now it's just a retail shop that we're formally consulting with, but rest assured, the next clients we're declassifying are restaurants. Badass restaurants.
Want to stay informed on our activities? Want to see our goofy videos?
Our website is WWW.PSAWINES.COM
Our twitter handle is @PSA_Wines
Our email for now is INFO@PSAWINES.COM
We are so excited to be doing what we love in the city we grew up in. See you around, gang!
-Justin Vann & Clayton Pierce
· PSA Wines [Official]
· Justin Vann's Blog [B4ttlesong]
· Justin Vann Launches PSA Wine Consultants — With Some Surprising Clients [29-95]
· All Justin Vann Coverage on Eater Houston [-EHOU-]