Campus Fine Wines: Cultivating Thirst with a wide selection of small production, organic & naturally made wines & thoughtfully chosen beers & spirits. We deliver.
A little bit of history, and a little bit of love for Lo-Fi wines:
Campus Fine Wines had been around for nearly 40 years before being purchased by Andrea Sloan, Vincent Scorziello, Howard Mahady and Natalie Butler.
Howard and Andrea were both wine sales reps and friendly competitors with similar philosophies on wine. They spent a lot of time trying to sell (and get people to consider) low-intervention, small-production wines. Little did they know that they’d end up owning a shop together, and would be able to line their shelves with EXACTLY the wines that they care about.
Everyone at Campus cares about these lo-fi wines beyond the hype: When retailers choose these wines, and then when the customer chooses these wines, they’re both supporting the small producer and his or her family, and each is doing a part (however small) to support winemaking traditions that could be lost in a world of industrialized production and mass-consumption. Some of these wines are extremely limited, and their place in the market can be fragile. If they’re treated just as a commodity–or worse–as an accessory, that only harms the small importer who went off the beaten path to bring this wine to us. And then it hurts the producer, who often toils for pennies. So it’s really important that these wines are understood and thoughtfully represented. The portfolios Campus supports are ones that embody this movement toward real wine, made by real people, without pretense, and with regard for the environment. Also, the wines are DELICIOUS.
Here is our mini-manifesto on Farmer-Fizz, from the fall of 2012. It sums up why we focus on small-producers with hard-to-beat price to quality ratios, so we thought we’d share it here:
For years, Campus Fine Wines had been the go-to store for Veuve-Clicquot and other big-name Champagnes (and lots of very cool wine, too!). For quite a while, this made sense. There was a time when the yellow label fizzy flew off the shelves faster than it could be stocked. There was a time when people didn’t ask questions about the provenance of their beverages á la Antiques Roadshow. There was a time when brand recognition trumped character and distinction.
Times have changed. We’ve gone full-on Farmer-Fizz at Campus, and here’s why:
Major House Champagne Annual Case Production:Moet & Chandon: 2 million cases Veuve Clicquot: 1 million cases Mumm: 625,000 cases
Grower Champagne Annual Case Production:Arnaud Margaine: 4600 Varnier-Fanniére: 2500 cases Jean Lallement: 1700 cases We live in a state that Travel + Leisure magazine named a top culinary destination in the US. We didn’t get that recognition by expanding our fast food franchises and factory farms. We got here because we care about the farmer, the fisherman, the artisan baker. We care about our natural resources, about the sustainability of said resources, and about the ways in which the things we eat are grown and raised. At the end of the day, we recognize that small, hands-on food production is preferable to the big, industrialized model. So why is it so different for Champagne? Why do we accept an industrialized, factory-made beverage to celebrate the most special days and occasions in our lives? Why, indeed?
We’ve tasted through hundreds (oh the sacrifice!) of grower-Champagnes so that today our Champagne shelf reflects our philosophy and values. We now have the largest selection of FARMER FIZZ in RI. The good news is that these wines don’t cost more than the big luxury brands. In most cases, they cost less. But they’re better in every way. Here, we defer to Terry Theise:
You should drink grower-Champagne because, like all hand-crafted estate-bottled wines, it is not a mere Thing but is indeed a BEING, expressive of where it grew and who raised it. In drinking it you help protect DIVERSITY, and diversity leads to VITALITY. And if you’d rather eat a local field-ripened summer tomato rapturous with sweetness instead of some January tomato you buy at the supermarket hard as a stone and tasting of nothing, then you should be drinking farmer-fizz!
Who we are:
In July 2012, Andrea Sloan, Howard Mahady, Vincent Scorziello and Natalie Butler purchased Campus Fine Wines, a Fox Point neighborhood landmark. since 1974.
Andrea and Howard have a combined industry experience (wholesale and retail) of over 30 years. They met on the road, quickly realized they had a similar aesthetic & philosophy about wine, and that they both still had a thing for retail. When Campus came up for sale, they jumped at the opportunity.
Howard has worked in retail since the early 90s, first as the French wine & Scotch buyer at The Wine Specialist in DC (where he cultivated lasting relationships with many importers, including Louis/Dressner and Wine Traditions), followed by 9 years as Sales Manager at Wakefield Liquors, then another 4 years as a rep in wine wholesale. Whether in retail or wholesale, he’s always on the hunt for cool wines.
Andrea spent about a decade in the photo industry before falling into the wine world in 2003, right around the time her & Vin’s son Luca was born. She worked first as a rep for a small organic importer in MA before moving to Providence and taking a job at Campus Fine Wines where she was a manager; after 3 years she also moved to the wholesale side of the business. She is responsible for the shop’s social media, newsletters and web-content.
Howard and Andrea buy the wine for the shop.
Vincent Scorziello was in the academic publishing industry for over 15 years–by day. He’s also a lifelong guitarist and has played in bands around Boston (also as drummer, singer & songwriter) since the early 90s. Always a beer drinker, he’s now the beer buyer at Campus; an unexpected role, but no complaints yet!
Natalie Butler worked as a paralegal in RI and DC before jumping feet first into the retail world. She is still in the business world, but you can find her at Campus, too; she’s a woman of many hats!
Since taking over, the four have revitalized this old neighborhood favorite with an updated selection of wine, beer, spirits and tchotchkes. Their energy and enthusiasm for what they’re selling is contagious, and it’s clear that part of their mission is to remind us that wine, beer, and spirits should be fun. But they’re very serious about what they’re doing, especially when it comes to wine. Part of what sets the new Campus apart is the commitment to producers who make wine with respect for the land, the grape, and those who drink. These producers understand that the best wines (not to be confused with the most expensive) are reflections of time, place and method. This simple truth, which is rightfully celebrated in food, is often overlooked in wine.
On the topic of place, everyone at Campus is grateful to be in such a vibrant, dynamic city that bustles with creativity and values cultivating knowledge and new ideas. Their tagline, Cultivating Thirst, was born from the idea that those qualities are part of what defines Providence and it’s why they support local organizations such as The Athenaeum, The Steel Yard, Providence Children’s Film Festival, RI Council for the Humanities, etc… Being a good neighbor is part of their mission; another few decades as a dedicated and valuable partner in the community is their vision.
Campus hosts wine tastings every Friday from 5PM-8PM & beer tastings on Saturdays from 3PM-6PM.