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The Wine Babes – Canal District Wines

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Jennifer Russo 

It all began with a matter of convenience – why drive to another town to grab more bottles of wine for parties or a glass of the good stuff while Netflix binging, when you could just open a wine shop right down the street? That is what wife-wife team Olivia and Rachel (aka Livy and Rae) thought when they saw an opportunity to create a shop of their very own. 

Wine beginners themselves, Livy and Rae wanted to offer a boutique style shop where people who love wine could come together and see rotating selections of some of the best, while being a part of the strong small business culture that we have come to know and love in Worcester. Known as the “wine babes”, the owners and extended staff tell Pulse that they, as a woman-owned-and-operated entity, are “reclaiming the term Babe and also having a little fun with it.” 

The General Manager of the store, Brittany, is a seasoned wine expert, with a Level 3 certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, having taught multi-level wine classes weekly in Jamaica Plain, and was promoted to GM of Coda Bar and Kitchen in Boston. Livy and Rae consider themselves “baby-beginners” in the wine world but are learning fast working with Brittany and have the passion and business know-how to bring quality wines to the area. 

The store sells a selection of 24 wines (8 red, 8 white, and 8 rose/sparkling), focusing on smaller producers with sustainable farming practices, women-winemakers, and people of color winemakers. You won’t find these wines in big retail stores, making this a unique shopping experience where you will get that bottle that stands out from the rest. 

“The first thing we do is create an approachable, fun atmosphere where we hope people feel like they can be truly open and curious about wine, no matter their level of knowledge,” the Wine Babes tell us. “We tend to have a bottle open in the shop to pour samples – the guest can let us know if they like the sample or, if not, we can use that as a starting place to help guide them toward what they might like.” 

When asked how they hope to make their mark on the scene, being a woman-owned business in a traditionally male-dominated field, their response was simple and to the point: “The same way women make their mark in every field…by being twice as good at everything we do.” 

The Wine Babes work with Gilbert Distributors, a mother-daughter business, to curate and source their wines to offer a variety that is both diverse and reasonably priced. 

Canal District Wines is a friendly and fun place where people can learn as much as they want to learn about wine. It is located in the bustling Worcester Public Market on Green Street, just

across from Table Talk Pies and, in fact, they have paired one of their wines with each of their fellow market vendors for a truly immersive experience. 

There will be new inventory in January and once the weather warms up again, they are looking forward to activating their sidewalk/storefront. Their formal tastings have also been a huge hit –and they can work with guests to offer custom, private tastings for your next get-together. Learn more about the shop, current wines, and their tastings at www.canaldistrictwines.com 

Visit the shop at 160 Green St, Worcester.

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