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Originally published Friday, November 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Retail Report

Catherine Reynolds starts own wine-selling business

The former wine manager of The Spanish Table expands weekly newsletter into home-based wine consultancy, sales operation in Skyway.

Seattle Times business reporters

Catherine Reynolds started her own wine-selling business last week via e-mail. Around midnight on Thursday, she sent a message to friends and fans with the news: "Some people thought it was crazy, that it couldn't be done, but I received my liquor permit on Monday & that means I can sell wine to you from Queso y Vino headquarters (a.k.a. home sweet home)," Reynolds wrote.

By the time she awoke Friday morning in her Skyway casa, Reynolds' first five orders had arrived in her in-box.

Thousands of tourists and locals know Reynolds as the former wine manager of The Spanish Table at Pike Place Market. She wrote a weekly e-newsletter and had a reputation for helping customers find affordable wines to suit their palates.

Reynolds left The Spanish Table in March, worked briefly at Bella Cosa in Wallingford and taught wine classes at 12th and Olive Wine Company.

She also launched a blog — www.madeleine.typepad.com — and her own weekly e-newsletter with recipes, wine picks and endearing, sometimes hilarious details from her culinary adventures.

Many of the events are dinners that Reynolds arranges with local chefs at $30 to $60 a person.

Others are more private affairs with friends and family, including her husband, Ken O'Hara, like the taco-truck expedition this fall:

"Cruise down Ambaum in Burien & the possibilities are endless for hole-in-the-wall taste experiments, but Salva-Mex with its window-shrine of Jesus, a goat in soccer garb, & a figurine of Elmo holding little blue shoes, (I kid you not) was like the equivalent of walking into the kind of place I relish while on south of the border vacation — it's the local watering hole, & you just happened to stumble upon it."

Reynolds' new wine business, Queso y Vino, features wines from Spain, Portugal and South America, most of them under $15 a bottle.

A favorite pick from a dinner she organized this week was Los Planos syrah, just $9.99.

"People were buying cases of it, and it's cool because it's from France. That's why the dinner was really fun, because it was not just wines from Spain," she said.

Reynolds wants to find a warehouse space for wine and eventually cheese, but for now she is "one psyched roving sommelier at your service!"

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She delivers to customers' homes in the greater Seattle area ("folks in Puyallup might have to sweet talk me").

Delivery is free for orders over $150.

There is a $10 charge for smaller orders, which is waived for customers who meet Reynolds at prearranged pickup locations that she hopes will include weekend farmers markets.

"Then I can meet multiple people at one location, and I can do my own shopping, because I love the farmers markets," she said.

Reynolds prefers to deal with customers personally, taking orders by e-mail (quesoyvino@gmail.com) and phone (206-518-1166).

It cost Reynolds about $7,000 to start Queso y Vino, including business licenses, taking business classes and buying inventory.

"It's crazy, because every day it keeps adding up," she said. "I know why people say tack the extra 30 percent on [to your budget]."

— Melissa Allison

Tidbits

Columbia Sportswear will open its new downtown Seattle store next Friday at 9:30 a.m. Columbia plans to donate 5 percent of all sales from Dec. 5-12 to the Conservation Alliance and Cascade Land Conservancy. — AM

Amazon.com says on its Web site that it's sold out of its Kindle wireless reading device. Introduced in November 2007, the Kindle received an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey on her TV talk show last month. Amazon does not disclose sales figures for the Kindle, which sells for $359. — AM

Olympic Cellars, of Port Angeles, has partnered with the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe in Blyn to release Longhouse Private Label Reserve cabernet sauvignon. Named for the cedar-plank structures that sheltered tribal ancestors, the wine is sold at the tribe's Longhouse Market and Deli for $12.99 a bottle. — MA

Full Circle Organic Farm, of Carnation, delivered about 860 pounds of vegetables last Friday to Fare Start, Union Gospel Mission and Pike Senior Center for Thanksgiving.

The delivery included carrots, potatoes, beets and winter squash. It's in support of the county's Puget Sound Fresh Eat Local for Thanksgiving pledge, said co-owner Andrew Stout. — MA

Redmond Town Center announces two new retail tenants: Aeropostale, which sells casual clothes and accessories targeting teens between 14 and 17 years old; and Eficion, which sells stereo speakers. — AM

Starbucks opened its first store in Bulgaria this week. The Sofia shop is part of a business partnership with Marinopoulos Group, of Greece, which also runs Starbucks stores in Greece, Cyprus, Switzerland, Austria and Romania. — MA

Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland will begin selling a new holiday shopping package called "Beyond the Little Black Dress" on Sunday.

With prices starting at $655, the package includes hotel accommodations for a night, three hours with a personal stylist, car transportation to Eastside shops, a $75 dinner credit and DVDs of fashion TV shows. — AM

Sake Nomi in Pioneer Square will host a daiginjo or "ultra premium" Japanese sake tasting from Dec. 5-7 featuring a dozen daiginjo sake that are produced in small batches and imported from Japan in limited quantities. Admission is free, and 2-ounce pours are $10 to $20. — MA

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Retail Report
Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to mallison@seattletimes.com or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

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