The Ladies of Dandelion Wine
“This place is an homage to the old school dive bar,” said Lily Peachin, the proprietor at Dandelion Wine in Greenpoint. “People make plans to meet their neighbors here. Romances have started here. People bring their parents here. We have dog treats, so dogs bring their owners here whether they want wine or not.”
When Dandelion Wine opened in June 2008, Greenpoint was limited to Polish liquor stores, armed with bullet-proof glass. But, Lily said, Dandelion was busy from the start. After studying at the Hospitality School at Cornell, she joined, then quickly fled a corporate position and found a home behind the counter at a few NYC dive bars. “I bartended at the Village Idiot and I learned as much there managing as I did at Cornell,” said Lily. “And when I needed to stop working there, I did.”
Eventually, she made her way into wine sales, which led to the idea of opening a shop. “Coming from dive bars, I wondered why I couldn’t have a wine store like that… People walk in and a weight lifts from their shoulders. That was the idea. When I was younger, sometimes I wanted to go to my bar more than I wanted to go home.”
With wooden boxes of vinyl and a turntable, art on the walls and a key rack holding neighbors’ spares, Dandelion is not a far cry from a living room in Brooklyn, or a dive bar.
“I used to know everyone who walked into the store” said Lily, “but now I don’t. I still know most of the regulars, but on Friday night, we’ll see people that we won’t see again.” Located off the G-train, Greenpoint is now a destination that draws more than its neighbors.
“We’ve had some of the same customers we’ve had from the beginning, but their lives have changed. They’ve gotten married, had babies, gotten promotions,” said Meg McNeill, the store’s manager and Lily’s partner in crime. “Babies are good for business. You can fill the bottom of a baby cart with wine,” she added and laughed.
With a name like Dandelion Wine, the store receives regular requests for its namesake. After they received a request from a woman at a hospice, they found a producer on a farm in upstate New York. “She was a pilot who loved horses, young men and wine,” said Meg, teary eyed. “She wrote us the nicest card, so we had to have the Dandelion wine after that.”
When it comes to wine, the ladies can taste and purchase with specific customers in mind. “We know their palates,” said Meg. “They’re really open minded. If they come in for Merlot and we say you should try this Négrette, and they normally do.”
“Yeah,” added Lily. “We have the best customers. Gaining their trust has been really fun. It might be why price points went up. They might come in looking for something and we turn them onto something else. One of my favorite comments is, I’ve never had a bad bottle of wine here. They’re willing to spend a few extra dollars if we’re excited about something.”