Wine shop owner needs good taste, financial skill

(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
By Jenn Abelson
Globe Staff / October 11, 2009

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Patrick Dubsky left the world of fine dining after nearly two decades to start up his own wine shop. In 2007, Dubsky, the former general manager and sommelier at Rialto, opened the doors to Winestone, a boutique winery in Chestnut Hill.

Q. How did you get your current job?

A. I made a decision after 17 years of managing fine dining restaurants in Boston to focus on wine, which is my passion. So I left the industry and spent two years trying to open the store, looking for a location, getting a license, and figuring out the business concept.

Q. If I wake up tomorrow and decide I want to be a wine shop owner too, what are the first things I should do?

A. You need to acquire a knowledge of wines first. So take wine education courses. I highly recommend ones at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. You should train your palate and that means tasting as many wines as possible. You also need to gain hands-on experience. So get a job in a wine store and offer to do anything, even if it’s just pouring wines for tastings.

Q. Since I don’t have the resume, or conventional background in this field, what are the kind of skills I would need to succeed?

A. You need to be a people person. You have to be able to read people and get them talking about what they want. To run a wine shop, you also need accounting and finance skills. And you should have research skills so you can truly understand the industry, the big players, the wine importers.

Q. What are the best jobs in the wine industry?

A. Having a small wine shop that you can put your own personal touch brings lots of satisfaction. Or being a wine educator. You can talk to consumers about wines. You also can be a brand ambassador - if you work for a winery - and sell wines to wine shops. This is great for people who like to teach.

Q. What’s your favorite wine?

A. German Riesling.