clayton winehouse photo by adam rothbarth

First Look: Clayton Winehouse

Some shops are just places where you can buy things; others are total ideas built around singular philosophies. Clayton Winehouse at 7911 Clayton Road is the latter. “It’s like building a building around what we think service should be in the wine industry,” said general manager and partner Chris Kolemainen, who previously worked at the Rock Hill Wine and Cheese Place. “We want to offer personalized service. We’ll have a glass of wine with you while you shop.” Kolemainen and partners Sean Boles and Tim and Karen Missey have a goal of getting rid of the “filler wines” you find in some wine shops and making the good stuff more accessible. “It’s about making people feel comfortable,” Kolemainen added. 

As for the building, it’s been in production for over five years. Inside, Clayton Winehouse is spacious and airy, with a unique, circular shelf acting as the centerpiece. Both New and Old World wines are on the table here, with some presence from low-intervention producers like Scribe Winery. In addition to being a bottle shop, Clayton Winehouse doubles as a tasting space, where wines by the glass are available; they’ll also allow customers to open retail wine for a $5 stemware charge. The partners said those wines will change often, according to what’s available and which producers are being showcased. “It’s almost like you’re walking into a new winery every week,” Kolemainen said. Tastings conducted by sommeliers and even producers will also be offered regularly. 

On that note, one corner of the shop – a sort of winery waterfall – seeks to showcase a bounty of wines from a single producer. When we visited, a number of wines from Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, a biodynamic winery in the Maconnais region of Burgundy, were on the shelf. In another part of the store, a large collection of spirits can be found. Eventually, Kolemainen said, they’ll offer a club where members can have special access to single-barrel tequilas, events and more.  

To go with the large selection of wine, Clayton Winehouse offers an assortment of snacks, including local charcuterie from Beast Butcher & Block. “Ryan [McDonald] there is amazing,” Kolemainen said. “Two bites in, I said, ‘You’re hired – this is the best I’ve ever had.’” Customers can occasionally find products from other local spots, like Amy’s Cake Pop Shop and Beets & Bones

Downstairs, a beautiful bar with rare spirits can be found; to this end, Clayton Winehouse partners with the Missouri Whiskey Society. Also in the cellar is a large, temperature-controlled wine case, which Kolemainen said is an essential part of the business, adding that customers looking to have wine with dinner can call ahead during the day so he can uncork their wine to aerate and bring it to the appropriate temperature. “A lot of wine shops are just not the right temperature,” he explained. Clayton Winehouse’s cellar is available for private events, dinners and tastings, and the partners hope to explore this side more as the business develops.  

As of last week, Clayton Winehouse is officially open. Learn about days and hours of operation, spirit offerings and more in the slideshow below.