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Covington wine boutique expands shop

The jugs are dark brown glass and inscribed with the name of the store. Called “growlers,” the jugs come in half-gallon and gallon sizes and hold a customer’s chosen craft beer from the selection offered at The Cork Boutique.

The growlers, a walk-in humidor and expanded cigar, beer and gourmet food offerings are now available at The Cork Boutique in downtown Covington, thanks to the shop’s expansion into the neighboring storefront.

At 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18, representatives from the city’s Chamber of Commerce will be on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony, officially opening The Cork’s new store area. The grand opening of the expansion will be held on Saturday, Dec. 20, with the shop offering discounts on some products and promotional giveaways.

The expansion, said co-owner Jack Phillips, is 1,300 square feet, almost doubling the shop’s square footage.

“When we originally opened the store, we wanted to present growlers and cigar offerings,” he said. “We tried to offer an upscale shop and the expansion has turned out to be beautiful.”

The expansion space includes an 8-by-9-foot walk-in humidor made of Spanish cedar, the preferred wood for maintaining the optimal environment for cigars.

According to Phillips, cedar holds moisture, doesn’t rot, keeping cigars and tobacco fresh.

“We maintain a perfect temperature, between 65- and 70-degrees and 70 percent humidity,” he said. “We’ve tried to put together some of the best sellers. It’s a small humidor filled with a high quality product.”

The expansion also houses an area for the selling and refilling of the growlers. Predating six packs, growlers allowed customers to buy and take home draft beer from kegs. Today’s growlers serve the same purpose, and can be brought back to the vendor to be clean, refilled and sealed.

“Once you buy the growler, you can bring it back and we’ll refill it,” said store manager Michelle Floyd. The growlers come in half-gallon and gallon sizes and cost $5 and $6, respectively.

“Craft breweries in Georgia have been expanding, especially over the last two years, around Atlanta and Athens,” Floyd said. “People are very interested in something new, something unique, something they can’t get everywhere. Everybody seems to be really excited about finding small production, unique beers and wines.

“A lot of things we carry are not being mass produced,” she said. “You won’t see them in big stores around the country.”

Floyd said people have been interested in learning more about wine and beer. The store has offered wine tastings and some beer tastings, but with the expansion, it now has a private tasting room with an area for shoppers to sit, explore and learn about wines and beers.

“We already have our tastings in there now,” she said. The room, which can accomodate up to 20 people, is available for private parties. “[People] can rent the room out and we usually offer four different wines, or can have a vendor come in and talk about wines. We do food pairings, [offering] some of our cheeses or gourmet foods, or [can have] some of the local restaurants supply bread and appetizers.

“We’ve talked about offering some introductory classes now that we have the private tasting room,” she said, “though that won’t happen until after the first of the year.”

With the expansion, Floyd said, The Cork becomes “the first growler shop and [has been] the first the specializes in small production wine.”

The Cork’s unique offerings fit well in downtown Covington, she said. “People thought they had to go to downtown Atlanta, even Conyers, to shop but now a lot of stores. We’re pleased that Covington is able to support a shop like [ours].”

Co-owner Lisa Phillips agrees. “We are excited that Downtown Covington is becoming more of a destination point and that several other small businesses have opened over the last year, making the town more pleasing for residents looking for something special for themselves or as a gift.

“We are glad to be a part of Downtown Covington,” she said.