Cellar 55 is where Old World meets New World: The fine wine and craft beer store groups its bottles by geographic origin.
In one section are European wines, arranged by country. New World wines – where California is represented – are across the aisle. Beer is organized by both country and state.
It’s all part of the unique atmosphere envisioned by Bill and Karyl Wigington when they opened Cellar 55 July 1 in Fuquay Crossing Shopping Center.
“We wanted to offer a really good value, and we wanted to help educate people about wine and beer with a unique shopping experience,” Bill Wigington said.
“The store is set up to help people learn,” he said. “You can learn what grapes come from what areas, and you’ll be more successful in finding what you want.”
Cellar 55 lives up to its name, with its low lighting and cool interior. Wood planks on the wall were reclaimed from a great-uncle’s barn in Mississippi. Remnants from Wigington’s father’s barn wrap the checkout counters.
The tasting room, beyond the bottle racks, has small tables and one large communal island. High-tech self-serve wine and beer walls allow customers to taste any of the 16 bottles or eight beers on tap. The machines dispense anything from a taste to a full glass or pint, depending on the customer’s preference. A small bites menu is also available.
“How many times have you bought a bottle of wine and gotten it home and didn’t really like it?” Wigington asks. “Here, you can taste it before you buy it.”
Jared Flood, whose business card reads The Cellar Dweller, handles the beer inventory and is a wealth of information for customers with questions about the differences in labels.
“I want to have 300 to 400 types of beer,” he said.
In addition to foreign brews, Cellar 55 partners with many local breweries. Flood said he already has had inquiries about kegs, which the store is happy to oblige with a few days notice.
The store is a second career for Bill Wigington, who retired from Cigna after 30 years.
“Karyl and I were putzing around trying to find something we could do together,” he said. “We came up with a wine shop.”
There were surprises along the way, but the end product fits their vision.
“There’s always a curveball when you’re starting out, but overall it went well,” he said.
Early traffic in the store has been better than expected, he said. Plans include classes and special events, such as wine and food pairings with local chefs.
Wigington is still filling the store’s wine racks, which can house up to 500 labels.
“We will stock what people want,” he said. “If someone asks for something, we will get it.”
About Cellar 55
Location: 1351 E. Broad St., Fuquay-Varina
Contact: 919-446-1156, email@example.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Sunday