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Groton - The expanded Grand Wine & Spirits store in the Groton Square Shopping Plaza off Route 12 is uncorking a new experience for connoisseur and pedestrian tastes alike.
The new 11,000-square-foot shop, which opened earlier this month two doors down from its previous location, includes a wine-tasting area as well as an associated but separate humidor for cigar fans. In addition, an upstairs area will allow the store to put on events for higher-end wine drinkers looking to explore new taste sensations.
A wine keeper in the store with up to $40,000 in inventory offers about 300 different collectible wines. Hot regions for wine, including Spain, South America and South Africa, are well represented in the store.
"You always want to put yourself ahead of the curve," said owner Chuck Bowe.
The gleaming new store has a homey feel, despite its expansive size, said wine manager Michele Lowrey, who works closely with general manager Ben Suhr at Bowe's two Grand Spirits locations in Groton as well as his Waterford Wine & Spirits shop.
And from noon to 8 p.m., seven days a week, the store at Groton Square Shopping Plaza is offering customers a chance to stay awhile by sampling up to two red and two white wines at its tasting bar.
"We want the customer to fee confident when they leave here that what they bought is what they wanted," Bowe said.
Bowe said his new liquor store is the completion of a dream to provide the region with a spot where customers could find a knowledgeable staff to help in decisions about wine-and-meal pairings - and to explore bottles from all over the world.
The store also caters to those interested in exploring Connecticut wines and beers, he added.
"It feels like an adult Disneyland in here," Lowrey said. "We sell happiness in a bottle."
Bowe said the new store will about double the size of his on-site staff, with as many as 14 jobs opening up. He employs a total of about 70 in the three Grand Spirits stores.
Bowe also employed all local contractors to create the new space, including Vernotzy Contracting in Waterford, Cascio Plumbing & Heating in Waterford, Cathedral Stained Glass Co. of New London, Rugh Protective Agency in Groton, Becker Sheet Metal in Middlefield and Judge Pro Tech of Colchester.
"We believe in using local contractors," Bowe said. "Our motto is 'from around the world to around the corner.'"