The O.G. – Part Two: Keeping Shop


IN THE BRICKS-AND-MORTAR backstory of the wines Dean Hewitson has made for 25 years, I hear a little echo of Willy Wonka.

It could almost be a chapter from a children’s history book: across South Australia, generations of 20th century school kids—Dean included—received small, foil-topped bottles of milk during their lunch breaks, packed up by the old Adelaide Milk Factory at what were, back then, the industrial outskirts of town. In more recent years, the historic operation gave way to Haigh’s Chocolates, an equally venerable Australian sweets company that took over the 100 year-old warehouse in Adelaide’s Mile End neighborhood in 2010.

Of course, there was never a Wonka-like character offering quasi-psychedelic, technicolor tours to children and their parents. But the combination of childhood memories and chocolate-making brought a smile to my face when Dean told me about the place where, for a decade in between the cows and confections, he built Hewitson Wines into an essential South Australian wine brand.

To borrow an Aussie term, a few walkabouts helped get him there.

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The O.G. – Part One


“THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES are over for JV Wine and Spirits.”

So wrote the Napa Valley Register’s Jennifer Huffman ten years ago. She may have covered more dramatic stories since then, but it was a sad day when Napa’s best bottle shop closed its doors.

In the spring of 2012, according to the business reporter, JV’s owners and their landlord couldn’t agree on new lease terms, so that was that for the 30 year-old retailer. The demise of this boozy emporium meant that loyal customers like me were left high and dry, without a full-service, high-end liquor store that also carried a wide range of equally good wines. Since then, it’s turned into days (and months and years) of trash and weeds for the property while its owner has, for whatever reason, let it stay vacant.

With its distinctive, curved façade, artsy spire, and great location at the edge the Oxbow District, JV always struck me as equal parts indispensable and quirky. There certainly were, and are, other places here in Napa to buy adult beverages, along with the internet. Maybe it was for these reasons the store that used to bill itself in both local advertisements and on the sign over its entrance as the place “Where the Napa Valley shops for wine” eventually turned into anything but.

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