Wilkes Street Wine Shop is owned and operated by Mark and Monique Garfinkel. Mark was born in NYC and Monique (Mo) is from Winchester, VA. Although they opened the wine shop in 2007, they didn’t move to Berkeley Springs until 2009. The couple resided in Silver Spring until that time where Mark worked downtown in WDC. Mark is also a lawyer whose office is now located on the 2nd floor of the historic corner Victorian which houses WSWS. The old Victorian was built in 1902 over the foundation of the first town jail. Old bars still cover the basement windows.
Initially, the wine shop was opened on a whim in order to fill up the empty side of the Victorian and bring more foot traffic to Himalayan Trade and Tour which was then located in the gallery room and lounge which is now used by WSWS customer who want to relax and sip wine there. Wilkes Street Wine Shop opened in May of 2007. People said it wouldn’t work. Sam Ashelman, the then owner of Coolfont said I was dreaming, Berkeley Springs simply could not support a wine shop. I didn’t care, we loved wine and we loved sharing what we had learned about wine with others. I figured if it didn’t work I would just drink the inventory. Six years later it is still an expensive hobby, but we are having a great time.
When Himalayan Trade and Tour moved to 39 Fairfax Street in 2011, we had a choice to make. Close the shop, which was still an expensive hobby, or keep it going. Customers and townies convinced us that the little shop was a real town asset, so we decided to keep it going and let the word spread. For over four years now, the WSWS has hosted free wine tastings every Saturday from about 12 to 5 pm. We generally open 4 to 6 value wines for folks to taste. Nothing spectacular, but always surprisingly good wine in the $9 to $13 range.
Thanks to all of our out of town repeat customers we continue to grow slowly despite the slow economy which has negatively impacted the town’s overall growth. Berkeley Springs remains a sleepy charming “art” town and tourist destination spot for folks seeking a weekend getaway complete with some of the most reasonable spa services available anywhere. While the closure of both the Country Inn and the Coolfont Resort has stifled the town’s business community, we look forward to their revitalization. Until then the Wilkes Street Wine Shop will continue to offer great wines from all over the world that drink above their price!
Mark and Monique also own Himalayan Trade and Tour which is located at 39 Fairfax in downtown Berkeley Springs accross from the State Park. The store’s website is www.himalayantrade.com