Second Place: Once Upon a Vine
Third Place: Kroger
Total Wine is sort of like Costco: Great selection, volume prices and better deals. Don't let the big-box atmosphere put you off. There may not be hanging plants and blond wood, but you can still find knowledgeable oenophiles. Based in Potomac, Md., Total Wine has two outlets in Richmond, each offering several thousand vintages and as many as 300 varieties of beer. French bordeaux is hot right now, especially the 2010 vintage. "My favorite is the Château Léoville-Barton," wine manager Ken Lukhard says. Prices range from $39 to $49. The trend, he adds, is toward "value and quality," including wines from Spain, Portugal, South America and France's Rhone area. Virginia wines sell very well but standby Californians don't dominate as they once did. Beer specialties go to India pale ales and anything aged in a barrel. The runner-up shops — Once Upon a Vine and Kroger — do the same thing, but not in such mass.