The once legendary AZ Wine Co. is no more as Todd Sawyer, owner of the award-winning Atlas Bistro has bought the boutique wine shop. After several months of re-modeling Atlas Wines is reminiscent of AZ Wine’s early days of mid 1990s.
The original AZ Wine Co. has played a big part in the local wine community as it was one of only a few places in the Phoenix area to get hard to find wines and Arizona made wines. Young wine geeks would shop the aisles, read labels, speak with knowledgeable staff and even “try before you buy” wines. Restaurateurs, future sommeliers, chefs and more knew they could find good wines at reasonable prices at the south Scottsdale shop. As time went by the valley grew, wine became mainstream and consumers would start to buy wine at big box stores or other wine shops/bars closer to home.
I had a first-hand look as I was an early employee at AZ Wine Co. learning about wines and becoming a resource to regular customers or someone just stopping in for a gift. To this day have friends I met working their and bump into customers around town asking for wine advice and reminisce about the good ‘ol days.
Gone are the living room sofas, rows and rows of wines, storage space and large wine bar. Sawyer reduced the square footage by 2/3rds and got rid of dead inventory and hopes a local restaurant will take over the left over store front.
Atlas Wines compliments Atlas Bistro
The wine shop plays an integral part to Sawyer’s Atlas Bistro as the small restaurant doesn’t serve wine and the wine friendly menu had customers bringing their own wine (BYO) or buying a bottle or two at AZ Wine. It was a no brainer for him to take over the shop to compliment the restaurant as he was sharing the wine buying for several years. Local wine geek Jock Wulffson continues to help Sawyer with wine buying and with customer relations. Wulffson himself is well known in the local wine community as he’s been involved with local wine & food groups and owned his own wine shop before coming to AZ Wine Co.
Customers will still find food worthy wines from across the globe from reputable wineries and lesser known, small production wineries. Craft beers from Arizona along with imported and domestic beers are available in the refrigerator. Several hundred labels are on shelves from everyday drinkers at under $20 to highly rated and sought after wines costing the price of a monthly car payment. The small wine bar will pour a selection of wines and beers once Covid-19 restrictions allow for.
Sawyer hopes to be re-opening Atlas Bistro in the near future for dinner and once opened it will provide European styled appetizers at the wine bar.