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Meet John and Samantha Miller of Vinum Wine Shop in Middleton

Today we’d like to introduce you to John and Samantha Miller.

John, Samantha, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Originally from Syracuse, New York I went to school for Aerospace engineering and was a commercial flight instructor, and loved it. When I moved to Boston, the jobs weren’t as plentiful; so, I found a job at a large liquor store. I met some of the most colorful, interesting and fun people and found the stories about wine and its history to be fascinating. I was scooped up by Boston Wine Company a small wine distribution company that specialized in small wineries all with interesting stories to tell. I spent the next 20 years in multiple roles within the industry, teaching, mentoring and helping others fulfill their dreams, either in restaurants, or in wine stores throughout the state.

I met my wife almost 20 years ago when she was in the restaurant business and she had the dream of opening her own business. 2 amazing children later, we found ourselves at a time in our lives that we could start thinking about fulfilling our dreams. My wife, having never extinguished the desire to have her own business, encouraged me to imagine directing my passion for wine and educating others and together we founded Vinum Wine Shop. We knew that we wanted to bring our passion for small wineries and their stories to people that wanted more than a big box store, but wanted a community place. We wanted to open a store where we could become a part of the community. We wanted to know our patrons and their families. Middleton is a small town next to where we live. It was the perfect location where our neighbors could shop and where we could meet new people.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We’ve been extremely lucky with our neighbors, our community and the small business support we have gotten from so many that have done this before. Our chamber of commerce has supported us with a ribbon cutting, with introductions and advice as our community has done as well. The local Board of Selectmen and town officials were extremely supportive of this type of business coming into town that we received our liquor license in record time and we able to open earlier than expected.

However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Negotiations with our landlord about what we could and couldn’t sell almost derailed us before we even opened the doors.

Since we opened almost 2 months earlier we opened without a sign which made the early weeks pretty slow. Our growth of on average 200 new customers a month is due mostly to word of mouth and that is so humbling. We treat every person that comes into Vinum with warmth, kindness and personalized service.

Our beautiful, warm and wine-bar like interior leads many to believe that our prices are higher than average, or not for every day wine. However, John’s wine knowledge means that we have outstanding wine starting at $8 and a full 1/3 of our inventory is $15 and under. Hence our tagline “The Boutique Wine Shop, without the Boutique prices”

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Vinum Wine Shop – what should we know?
We have a wine and craft beer shop on south Main Street (Rt. 114) in Middleton, MA. When we designed the shop, we wanted it to have the warmth and feel of a wine cellar. We wanted to invite our patrons in and make them feel welcome. We offer a taste of wine any day, we encourage our customers to taste wine while they shop.

Given my background in representing smaller wineries with stories, Vinum Wine Shop specializes in smaller, mostly family owned wineries. We have less than 250 wines in our store. Given our selection every wine is hand-picked, and good enough that I would take them home to have with my wife at dinner. We can’t afford to have a bad or mediocre bottle of wine in the building; there just isn’t room.

In the same vain as the small family-owned wineries, we only carry craft beer from smaller (sometimes nano) breweries. When we opened, we had only beer brewed in New England, now we have beer from all over the country, but still no Budweiser or Coors. I have tasted every beer that we put up on our beer wall, so if you ever have a question, please come ask me, I love to talk beer (and wine).

I am proud of the reputation we have cultivated as a wine and beer shop where you can come in and have a conversation about what you’re selecting or hear the story about how it’s bottled. On the same token, I’m happy to suggest the perfect wine to go with dinner or to gift someone.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Knowledge and experience. Wine shops, beer stores, and liquor stores can be opened by anyone; however, opening a place that offers information, food pairing and knowledge takes someone with passion for the product and the job.

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Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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