W90+ is the newest addition to Jacksonville’s trendy wine and food scene at the Shoppes of Avondale. Two Jacksonville brothers, Elias and Eduardo Mahfuz, originally from Brazil, wanted to create a light, airy space where customers could easily browse and taste hand-picked selection of fine wines along with artisan cheeses, breads and pastas. They chose the name, W90+, to highlight a wine selection where nearly every bottle has achieved a rating of 90 or better from expert reviewers. But high marks, doesn’t have to mean high prices. Avondale store manager, Rob Middleton, says that W90+ carries “wines for just about every price range. You can have a nice evening for under $20.”
Unlike a warehouse type of wine store, “there’s no getting lost. We have the maximum amount of choice in this small space. You can come in and make your choice very simply, quickly and easily. Whether your choice is made based on the review or based on price or based on consultation with the staff,” notes Middleton. The wine buyer for W90+, Richard Park, has more than 30 years of experience choosing high quality wines and the knowledgeable staff strives to provide personalized service for both novices and connoisseurs alike.
The owners chose to locate their business in Avondale because of its foodie reputation and walkable neighborhood charm. Filled with natural light, W90+ creates an intimate space with white floor-to-ceiling cubby holes that allow customers to view the shop’s full collection and accompanying wine reviews. Gourmet foods, like Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses, French Pantry breads, Cipriani’s pastas and Sauces ‘n Love fresh pestos, complement the store’s extensive wine selection. Middleton thinks some hidden gems are Gruet Winery sparkling wines from New Mexico, Austrian Grüner Veltliner white wines and Washington state wines. He adds that pink-colored wines tend to get a bad rap as being too sweet, but invites customers to try out rosés from Provence which are “tart and refreshing” for summertime.
The shop also features a state-of-the-art Italian Enomatic® wine dispenser, common at wine bars, offering fresh sips of a rotating selection of white and red wines. “I don’t know of anybody else who has an Enomatic® in their shop,” notes Middleton. “By having one of those at the shop, we are able to have at any time eight wines—four whites, four reds—ready for tasting. Any wine shop can open wines and have them available for taste, but they will only be good for a day or two.” The Enomatic® machine avoids exposure to air preventing loss of taste or spoilage. W90+ also hosts weekly Friday night social tastings at 5:30 p.m. and is open on Sundays for customers looking to pair wines with fresh produce purchases from the local Avondale Farmers Market.
Open since November 2011, W90+ has already been active in local events for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, World Affairs Council Jacksonville and Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital. Clearly, the Mahfuz brothers’ concept has already become a big hit with a feature on Fox 30’s Action News Morning Show and expansion to a second W90+ location at 1112 S. 3rd St., Jacksonville Beach. Whether you’re looking for wine for a special occasion or a quiet evening at home, visit W90+, 3548 St Johns Ave, Jacksonville (904-413-0025), friend them on Facebook to sign up for their newsletter or catch their tweets on Twitter. In a hectic summer, isn’t it time for you to stop and smell the rosés?
–Bridges DelPonte, www.bridgesdelponte.com