When I received the invitation to visit the new wine room at the Frank Kent Cadillac dealership, it stopped me in my tracks. A dealership using wine to drive car sales in an anti-drinking and driving culture? Time to investigate.
I was picked up in a Cadillac Escalade and taken to Fort Worth to meet with Brad Kimura, wine director and advisor for Cadillac Wines. I walked into a small room that looked like a personal cellar with more than 300 different wines on the shelf.
A quick walk yielded labels of Cristal, Sea Smoke, Opus One, Shafer, Nickel & Nickel, Palmaz and many others. Cadillac Wines will also carry private-label wines by well-known winemakers like Jess Jackson after receiving label approval. This retail wine store aspires to have the best pricing on high-end, boutique wines in Dallas-Fort Worth.
During a recent tasting event, Cadillac Wines sold 61 cases of Opus One in 45 minutes.
Tasting events have included Opus One, the select Napa Valley red wine produced in part by U.S. winemaker Robert Mondavi and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild — daughter of the famous French vintner. Cadillac Wines received 65 cases of Opus One, which has an average bottle price of $225, and sold 61 cases in 45 minutes. During these tastings, wines are poured into a Cadillac Wines Riedel glass, which guests get to take home when they pay for a tasting or buy a bottle.
As for the drinking-and-driving issue, it becomes a moot point, as the wine shop will never sell more than five to six ounces total per guest. The goal is to let you taste first to figure out what you like and then you can purchase a bottle to take home.
The wine bar has eight wines on tap. I tried the Jordan 2010 Chardonnay, de Rothschild Lafite Collection 2009 Pauillac, Opus One 2009 and Robert Mondavi Reserve 2009. During my tasting, Nancy and Billy Prichard, who were in the process of buying a car, walked into the shop. In about 20 minutes, Kimura masterfully walked them through a number of wines that two people with very different palates would enjoy. The couple left with three wines.
Kimura talked about the reasons that Frank Kent Cadillac is taking this unique approach. “It’s like Vegas,” he said. “You have to go through the showroom to get to the wine store and you see the Cadillac inventory.
“Cadillac Wines is just another amenity to serve the Cadillac customer who enjoys fine wines. These customers expect to be pampered with great service and provided with the best product and selection they can get for their money.”
This was one of the most unique wine shopping experiences I had in 2012. Only time will tell if selling wine will drive automobile sales by luring in new customers.
Cadillac Wines is open Monday-Friday, 10 am-7 pm, and Saturday, 10 am-5 pm. A 10 percent discount is applied for six or more bottles. Orders within a 15-mile radius, and over $300, are delivered in a Cadillac.