Underdog Wine Co.’s New Location Now Open in Union Hill- Feast Magazine
Underdog Wine Co. owners Ryan and Jenny Sciara have plenty of bottles on hand to pop a cork and celebrate the opening of their second location, based in the Union Hill neighborhood. The Sciaras announced plans for the Union Hill shop in mid-September and officially opened for business on Mon., Nov. 21. The rapid build-out and debut in slightly more than two months is nothing short of impressive.
“A lot of things fell into place,” Ryan says. “We were able to get our liquor license quickly before Thanksgiving.”
With a previous opening under their belt, Ryan and Jenny prepared for the second shop by emulating and improving on features that made the original store popular with customers. Jenny designed the functional space of both stores based on specifications to enhance the shopping experience. Both shops have streamlined, uncluttered shelving in a long rectangular room with a cozy feel. “Shelf talker” cards clearly list helpful wine details including name, origin, pricing, aroma, palate, body and finish. Ryan has tasted every wine in the shop and used his firsthand knowledge to describe the wines in relatable terms.
Ryan will spend a couple days at the Union Hill store, though he plans to concentrate most of his time at the Crestwood location. Chad Brewer was hired to manage the Union Hill shop full-time.
Additional space is perhaps the most important distinction between the two locations. In spring 2014, the Sciaras opened their flagship 600-square-foot store in the Crestwood Shops. Underdog’s new 956-square-foot space is located on the first floor of the McGee Building next to Cafe Europa’s forthcoming second location. Ryan designed the second shop to allow more room for wider aisles, more shelf and cooler display, storage and an office.
“The aisles are 18 inches wider,” Ryan says.
The extra width allows more room for customers to browse a selection of small estate, lesser-known and hard-to-find wines, Champagnes and spirits not carried elsewhere in town. Ryan says that 90 percent of the wine at the Union Hill location is also carried at the Crestwood shop.
But while the two stores have similar inventory, the Union Hill shop has more room for a few highlights. Here, Underdog carries a selection of bitters and tonic water for mixing cocktails at home. Future plans include adding sake and mixers, and monthly wine club memberships are also available at the new location. Local customers have been quick to join the club within the first week of the store’s opening.
The Union Hill neighborhood doesn’t have easy access to a diverse selection of craft beer at supermarkets or convenience stores nearby, and Ryan addressed this issue when planning the store’s shelf space and cooler inventory.
“We have two-and-a-half coolers for beer,” says Ryan. “Customers are appreciative. They are able to walk from home to pick up beer and wine. We’re listening to our neighbors to see what people are interested in.”
Underdog also secured a warehouse license that enables Ryan to store and ship product between stores. The second store enables him to increase his buying power, purchase larger quantities of popular wines and easily transfer inventory. The Union Hill location also features abundant nearby parking.
In Ryan’s view, Underdog Wine Co. opened its first branch in the right place and at the right time as the holidays approach. As the population density of Union Hill increases, its longtime and newer residents have wasted little time with visiting and welcoming their new neighbor.
Ryan Sciara recommends two sparkling wines and two best-selling wines for holiday gift-giving and enjoyment.
2015 Renardat-Fâche Vin du Bugey-Cerdon ($22)
A sparkling rosé with an aroma of fresh strawberries and cream. Good with cheeses, charcuterie and dessert. Great at the end of a meal.
Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal ($18)
This sparkling wine is made with the same méthode traditionnelle production techniques used for Champagne. Lambert de Seyssel’s additional step of aging Royal Seyssel for at least three years results in a wine with more complex, distinguished aromas of brioche, biscuit and Bosc pear. Green apple, pear, butter and baked bread are evident on the palate.
Field Recordings Franc ($20)
A Cabernet France from California’s Central Coast with aromas of violet and raspberry. The palate reveals notes of cherry and earthy pepper.
2014 Failla Pinot Noir ($32)
Underdog’s best-selling wine hails from the Sonoma Coast. Failla’s limited-production wines are primarily available via the winery’s tasting room and wine club. This Pinot Noir is representative of Underdog’s practice of stocking exceptional wines at a good value. Black cherry, plum and spices aromas lead to flavors of ripe red berries, pomegranate, kirsch and clove.
Underdog Wine Co., 2984 Gilham Road, Union Hill, Kansass City, Missouri, 816.581.5757, underdogwinekc.com