You know those wines you fall in love with at your favorite restaurant, but can never find in a liquor store to enjoy at home? Your chances of tracking those wines down got a whole lot better when Henry & Son opened in the Harrison neighborhood of Minneapolis.
“I never thought I’d own a liquor store,” says Gretchen Skedsvold. But because life works in strange and mysterious ways, she and her husband, Mark Henry, are now the proud proprietors of...a liquor store that focuses on craft wine, beer, and spirits.
The couple moved to Minneapolis from New York in 2012 to be closer to family and to find a house, settle in, and raise their son, Oscar. They eventually found the perfect Victorian fixer-upper in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood. And although both Skedsvold and Henry were able to keep their corporate jobs and telecommute, they share an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to start a business of their own.
“When we moved here, we couldn’t find a lot of the wines we loved,” says Skedsvold. They took to having wine delivered, but after a few mishaps, like returning home to find an entire shipment frozen on the doorstep, it occurred to them that perhaps they weren’t alone in wanting to seek out indie producers using sustainable practices, and the idea of a wine shop began to take shape.
The couples’ original intent was to open a shop in their Bryn Mawr neighborhood, but after finding what they thought would be the perfect location, they discovered that zoning restrictions wouldn’t allow a liquor store. Despite that setback, “the momentum was going,” says Skedsvold, and they were still committed to finding something close to home. A self described “digger,” who loves researching things, she started studying zoning maps, and took to driving around town, scouting out prospects. One day, she happened by the First and First Building, saw an empty space, got the landlord’s number from another business in the building, and everything fell into place; Henry & Son opened last October.
The shop has an industrial loft feel to it, with white walls, tall ceilings, exposed ductwork, and a wall of windows facing Glenwood Ave. There’s a communal table in the middle of the room, and bottles displayed on cubbyhole-like shelves around the perimeter like little art installations. This place is the antithesis of the new liquor warehouses that have opened recently around town. It also had a distinctly different vibe from the local big boys like Surdyk’s, France 44, and Haskell’s.
But this is not a place for wine snobs only, although those folks will be delighted to find some off-the-beaten-track surprises. Henry and Skedsvold are equally excited to share their love of wine and their knowledge with people just starting to explore better wines, or looking to expand their palates with something a little more sophisticated or unusual.
The shop hosts tastings on most Thursdays and Fridays, a great opportunity to sample and learn. And don’t think you have to drop a lot of money to get a good, interesting bottle of wine — just head over to the 12 wines under $12 section and stock up. If you ask for recommendations, Skedsvold is happy to oblige. Just don’t ask her to choose a favorite wine. “I like wines that make you think,” she says, “wines that trigger a memory you can’t quite figure out.”
Henry & Son
811 Glenwood Ave.
Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.