After 21 years of continuous ownership, the Asheville Wine Market has officially changed hands. Opened in 1993 by Eberhard Heide after he left Weinhaus, the store became Asheville’s second wine shop. But rather than a buyout, this takeover seems more like a passing of the scepter.
Larry Weaver moved from the New York/New Jersey area to the Appalachians in the mid 1980s, when he was letting go of the tail end of a marriage. Trading in his previous jobs in photography for chef’s whites in Knoxville, he worked as executive chef at several restaurants, including Merlot, where he was featured on the Food Network.
“I knew Eberhard a little bit from when he worked over at the Weinhaus,” Weaver explains. “I would come over from Knoxville to buy wine and beer, because at the time it was very slim pickings in Tennessee.”
“I came in one time, and they told me I should work there,” he says. “They said that Eberhard needed help with the web page and writing data bases, and it seemed like an easy crossover for me from being a chef, and two months later I was living here.”
A decade later and Weaver found himself in talks to own the business for himself. “I’ve always talked to Eb about what would happen when he retired, and he always gave me the first option to step in and buy the business. I just lucked into it,” says Weaver. “It was the right time and the right place. It’s a nice introduction to long term debt!” he jokes.
For the most part, loyal customers wont see any drastic changes. After all, Weaver has been overseeing the day to day affairs of the shop for over a decade now, so don’t expect him to go fixing something that clearly isn’t broken. But he has already expanded the hours until 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and now opens on Sundays. He also intends to focus on small-platform, regional producers from France, Italy and Spain.
“I’m definitely on a mission to bump up the wine culture around here,” says Weaver. “We’re going to get a little more esoteric and try to get some stuff in that you might only be able to get in bigger cities.” They also plan on hosting wine classes with Ryan Brazell, the former sommelier for Table. “He has tremendous knowledge and he is really into teaching, and we are willing to work on that with him.”
“For me it is all about the small independent vignerons,” he says. Think of his obsession with small, boutique wine as something similar to the obsession of Josh Spurling at Table Wine in South Asheville or Wine Authorities in Raleigh.
“I think we all share the same kind of feeling about getting the small independent vignerons and the people who are making wine on a family level or cooperative level, or even at a community level. There are a lot of wines that get past the cooperative level stage and it becomes entire communities and entire villages that get involved in making the wine. Those are the things that I have a specific interest in. We’re obviously not going to rule out things that people like and enjoy, but we’re going to have a focus on independent vignerons.”
They are also independently bringing in a lot of wine from France and Italy, sourcing and importing it themselves. “We’re looking for things that are a little off the beaten path.”
Asheville Wine Market is at 65 Biltmore Ave.