Local wine shop in Easthampton offers smaller, different variety

March 26, 2024 | Miasha Lee

Left to right: Owners Miranda Brown and Lauren Clark on the day they opened Nov 1, 2023.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

EASTHAMPTON — Tip Top Wine Shop is Easthampton’s first store dedicated to quality wine. Opened since November 2023, the shop owned by Miranda Brown and Lauren Clark carry wines from around the world. It specializes in wines from smaller and lesser known producers that are often using native grapes that are also lesser known. The store also has craft beer, nonalcoholic drinks, Asian chips, cheese, charcuterie and other specialty foods.

“Our vision was to offer good quality wine at every price including affordable bottles,” said Clark. “Neither of us are wine experts. We really like wine and have good palates, but we don’t know as much as a sommelier would know which places us in the same demographic as a lot of our clientele.”

She continued, “They like wine, they don’t know a ton about it and need recommendations, so we provide that with a down-to-earth approach. We want to make wine accessible, fun and delicious.”

Brown and Clark have been friends for 10 years. Brown used to be a pastry chef at Coco and the Cellar Bar for seven years. Then she worked as a cake decorator at Whole Foods for two years. Meanwhile, Clark was a marketing manager for a wine importer based out of Minneapolis. They wanted to own a wine shop in Easthampton because they were tired of driving to another town to get a decent bottle of wine. The two met up a couple of times in early 2020, but plans got derailed due to the coronavirus pandemic so they picked up the idea again in the summer of 2021. From there it was a long road of writing a business plan, getting funding, getting a liquor license and waiting for the build out of their space which Clark said turned out great.

“We want Tip Top to be a place in town where people can buy interesting wine,” Brown said.

Clark added, “A place for people who enjoy drinking wine and give them a place to explore. There was not a place where you could get help buying a bottle of wine or get any guidance. You would have to go to a packaged store or grocery store and fend for yourself. Whereas here, if you want to talk about what kind of wine you want to go with your roast chicken dinner we can help with that.”

Easthampton resident Jonathan Warren Herbert was excited to have a local wine shop in town. He knows Brown and Clark and was aware they were attempting to create a wine shop for some time.

“The selection is very thoughtful and uniquely cultivated,” Herbert said. “Some of my favorite wines they have are the Le Paine, Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo, which is a fantastic wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, which is amazing.”

He continued, “Having a shop like Tip Top Wine Shop in our community is a great thing, as I know I can get a nice bottle of wine locally without leaving town.”
Kaci Ruh lives in Holyoke, but prior to a year and a half ago she was an Easthampton resident for 10 years. She loves funky, slightly fermented wines, but isn’t knowledgeable about wines. She takes pictures of bottles she loves so she doesn’t forget, but doesn’t have a lot of skilled language around what to ask for. The first time she went in to Tip Top, Ruh was drawn to their orange wines, which was a whole new category for her. She has been exploring those, initially based on their recommendations, and then later based on their approachable shelf labels. As a bonus to each trip, Ruh always pick up a fun tinned fish and a bag of Mexican Lay’s, Fishwife smoked mackerel.

“You can go in with very little experience, and walk out with a bottle that hits your mark,” Ruh said. “I’m introduced to great wines that bump up against what I like, but are not what I would have known to look for.”

She went on to say, “Miranda and Lauren have curated a shop full of drinks and snacks that speak to those of us who are looking for approachable, fun, and fancy without trying too hard.”

Right now, Brown and Clark’s goal is to stay open. As far as future goals, they hope Tip Top will become an Easthampton institution. Clark said, “The responses we’ve received from people who shop here have been overwhelmingly positive and that’s been gratifying.”

Tip Top Wine Shop is located at 150 Pleasant St., Suite 155, between New City and Abandoned Building Breweries. They are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday- Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Most Fridays, they will do an informal tasting from 3-6 p.m. To learn more information, visit tiptopwineshop.com. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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