Red, white and pinot noir

Debby Stewart

Photo By Tom Angel

It’s not always easy to guess what new business will or won’t succeed in Chico, but Debby Stewart’s new venture is as close as one can get to a no-brainer. Vino 100, a wine and gift shop with the awesome slogan of “100 great wines for $25 or less,” is opening in the early summer (probably before the end of June) in the old Readmore book store spot. Situated as it is in the heavy-traffic neighborhood of the Park Plaza (Mangrove Safeway) shopping center, it’s easy to visualize downtown and eastside regulars making frequent stops for new and inexpensive bottles for their dinner parties and weekend fun. Stewart just retired from local Norfield Industries, and her partners in the shop, Laura Burwell, Yvette “Yogi” Bocast, Desi Cowan and Jo Scott, who all still work full-time, are leaving the managing in her hands.

What’s the deal?

Like the slogan says, ‘100 great wines for $25 or less.’ We are planning on carrying a lot of food products and art. … We’ll have wine tastings also, and food tasting—hors d’oeuvres.

How’d you choose this location?

This is the spot we always wanted. We’re next to the UPS store; we’re next to Hallmark. We have even talked about doing some synergistic things around the holidays. Around the holidays it can be a one-stop shop.

Any concerns being next to Safeway?

No. Safeway has the wines people are familiar with. Why we started this store [was to be] very educational and extremely friendly, very casual. It’s going to be set up so that basically every wine is featured. All the info is given on a sign right in front of it. They’ll be arranged by taste—fruity, dry, etc. Our tastings will be done by the major tastes—people will find the taste they like, and can get others like that. Every bottle is guaranteed. If we didn’t have it dialed in, bring back the unfinished bottle and we’ll try again.

What’s the best wine for under $25?

It depends on your taste. There is no best wine. This place will be more for the taste, and for enjoying wines—it’s not about investing in wine, it’s about drinking wine.

Have you seen the movie Sideways?

Yeah, it was funny, but parts of it are pretty depressing.

White or red?

I like both. I started off like most do with “light and sweet,” and then I went to the reds. I don’t think most people just start off with a merlot. I’m really starting to appreciate all the wines.