photo by Caitlin Abrams
Back in 1979, when we were all singing Y.M.C.A by the Village People, the people in the little village that is Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop were also inventing a legend: The Surdyk’s annual Fall Wine Sale.
Thirty-six years later it’s now a statewide phenomenon, drawing crowds from down the Hennepin Avenue block and up in our northernmost Up North posts. (To be honest, says fourth-generation Surdyk, Melissa Surdyk, “Thanks to free online ordering, our sale customers come from across the country.”) You can shop the Fall Wine Sale Sept. 30 through Oct. 17.
What’s unique about the in-store crowd at Surdyk’s Wine Sale is the atmosphere—it’s certainly the most celebratory and communal wine sale you’ll ever attend. “Customers are excited to be here, to fill their carts, to interact with each other,” says Surdyk. “Often you’ll find customers talking to each other about their favorite wines. It’s a very festive environment!” Once, she says, Santa Claus was even spotted shopping for his (over-21) elves.
Whether you’ve been every year or never been, or your attendance is somewhere between, here are Surdyk’s tips for wine sale-ing the famous Fall Wine Sale.
1.) “Read your catalog!” Surdyk says. It’s loaded with great sale prices, staff selections, and in-store tasting events. Read it before you come, not in the parking lot after you pull in. You’ll want to have plenty of time to plan for your best picks. (And you’ll want to be respectful of that parking spot.)
2.) To shop in-store like a pro, Surdyk has this secret: “Grab a cart and park it on the perimeter of the store. Wander the aisles and bring your finds back to your cart. When your cart is full, head to the check out.” Shhhh! This is how the regular wine-sale crowd does it!
3.) Another important secret: All of the staff picks are in the wooden aisle boxes. Don’t ignore those wines.
4.) If something you love is on sale, grab a case. Find a Surdyk’s staff member and he or she will call it up for you. They’ll carry it to your car, too—“You won’t have to lift a finger,” Surdyk says. “Except when you get home.”
5.) Speaking of your car, bring a truck. Or, if you don’t have a truck, make sure there’s plenty of space in your trunk and/or back seat for your finds. Sale wine can take up a surprising amount of space.
6.) If you can’t make the sale in person or crowds aren’t your thing, “Shop our Wine Sale online!” Surdyk says. You won’t be able to chat about wine with other wine lovers, but all the deals are the same.