Buy Local: Cloverleaf Fine Wine

Scott Collins of Cloverleaf; All Photos Cr: Brandon Edward Miller

Some people choose to save money by buying their fine wine at Meijer.  Some people don’t.

If you want to shop at a local store featuring niche and craft wine, make sure to give Cloverleaf Fine Wine in downtown Royal Oak a visit.  Managers Tom Natoci and Scott Collins lead a staff that is dedicated to helping you find the perfect bottle to take to a friend’s place for dinner — or the perfect case to keep in the cellar at home. The store is cool and comfortable — you can linger and study labels on your own, or let the knowledgeable staff know what you’re looking for.  They’ve got an extensive selection of wine and beer with a small gourmet food section to boot.  If they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, they’re more than willing to place an order for you.

The first thing you notice when you arrive at Cloverleaf is their unique building.  Located at 711 S. Main, the shop is located downstairs in a handsome brick and concrete structure.  While it has a cellar-like feel to it (enhanced by reclaimed brick from the original structure), there are plenty of windows.  The building is over 100 years old and was originally a power station for street cars that used to rumble down Woodward Avenue.  After 50 years of performing this duty, it was turned into a warehouse and then fell into disrepair.  In 2008, the Armstrong Design Group won the Business Beautification Award for transforming the dilapidated building into a fine wine shop.  There’s also a large room upstairs which can be rented out for events — and it looks like the perfect spot for a new restaurant once this whole economy-thing turns around.

Enough about the building . . . More on the wine and other products available at Cloverleaf (including a really interesting selection of specialty beer), after the jump . . . .

Hint:  The Wines Downstairs

Hint: The Wine's Downstairs

Alright, I’m not going to try to tell you about the subtle differences between a limited intervention blend of 60% shiraz and 40% cab or explain why the store has been able to sell over 40 cases of Chateau Pesquie Quintessence in 5 days — you need to go to the store and ask (or at least sign up for their newsletter)!

Enter the Cellar

Enter the Cellar

But, I will tell you that they have an excellent selection of wine from all over the world.  They have a particularly large French stock, but also a nice selection from Michigan wineries as well as more than the normal one or two obligatory ports and sparkling wines/ champagnes.  Most of their bottles range from $8-$20, including a “value shelf” of odds and ends around $10-$15.

Wine!

Wine!

There is also a carefully-selected beer inventory, from the $1.50 – $10 a bottle range, all selected by Terry Jettke, a “retired firefighter, part-time woodworker, and longtime wine enthusiast.”

Beer!

Beer!

Have you had a chance to check these guys out?  What did you think?  Any other local wine shops worth visiting?  Let us know in the comments below!

More at www.cloverleaf.com, Metromode and Yelp.

This article brought to you by the good folks at Urbane Apartments Royal Oak Michigan, Urbane Apartments Ferndale Michigan,Urbane Apartments Birmingham Michigan, and Urbane Apartments Dearborn Michigan

  • Matt

    I know the owner of this building and was in this store during construction and after. I have to say, it’s one of the best uses of urban design in Detroit. The cellar keeps the original intent of the downstairs, which used to power the street cars on Woodward Avenue. The holes above the wines (some of which house a bottle in the image above) were where they actually used to run massive cables underground all the way out to Woodward. And the sign out front is a great, great piece to see as you enter the city of Royal Oak. Btw, our beloved city council gave them fits over that sign as it was originally intended to sit on an angle and be seen as you exit the off ramp from 696. It’s a great looking, classy sign that is a great entrance to our city.

    One other important thing to mention about Cloverleaf is they specialize in values! They are so professional and knowledgeable about wines and growers that they are notorious in the wine world for finding that amazing bottle of wine that only costs $14. One of the big reasons why is that they work with vineyards who are only in the business of making great wines, not marketing, not shipping. These vineyards don’t have extensive logistical means to get their wines from California to Michigan without great wine places like Cloverleaf. You walk in and really talk to the people there and you realize that they’re out there drinking the best wines that different regions have to offer and bringing them back here.

    Definitely a great addition to the Royal Oak food and beverage scene.

  • John Stafford

    I agree with the post and with Matt’s comments. It’s tough to do a basement/ cellar atmosphere that isn’t either dark or dank . . . here’s got good light and is well laid out for a relatively small space.

    Service is great and it’s nice to see that they are fairly busy when I visit (usually on weekends). Highly recommended!

  • Brandon

    Matt — thank you for the background on the sign. I love the sign! What is the role of this City Council? (There are so many entities — not sure which one — Zoning Board, City Commission, or DDA?) Is it to make it harder for people who want to set up businesses? To make it hard to set up sidewalk cafes? The more I learn about it, the more crazy it seems. (See Bordine post…)

    John — I loved the space as well, as you can tell from my post.

    Happy Wine Buying/ Drinking!

  • Dominique

    Royal Oak has a Sign Ordinance (available as a .pdf on the city’s Web site http://www.ci.royal-oak.mi.us/ords/sgnordfd.pdf ). Appeals now go before the Building Code Board of Appeals. The city used to have a separate Sign Board of Appeals, but it looks like they got rid of that with the 2003 revision of the ordinance.

  • Frank P

    After reading this, I began laughing hysterically- there was a Sign Board of Appeals!?!? Lord.

  • Annie

    Cloverleaf Wine is awesome! I love trying new wines and the staff is able to recommend some outstanding ones that are priced within my budget. I also enjoy picking out a mix of unique craft beers for my husband to try. The store has a very cool, urban vibe – great place to visit on a regular basis.

  • http://www.kyleevansdesign.com kyle evans

    Thanks for the complements!!! ..I designed all of the sinage for cloverleaf – the Neon as well as the large metal winebottle out front and the planter boxes. The designs were fabricated by Quality Metal Craft in Livonia. It was a long, tedious, and extremely difficult process to obtain apporval form the City of Royal Oak and the sign BARELY passed!!!

  • John T.

    The last time I was in CLOVERLEAF was a treat. They had many boutique selections unavailable in the big boxy stores and the guys working there actually knew something about the vineyards without being snotty about it. They helped me fill up a case without being pushy about it and their prices were reasonable. I look forward to going back there.

  • Aileen

    The guys at Cloverleaf are great! Although I don’t imbibe myself I do cook and entertain. Imagine my relief when I walked into Cloverleaf for the first time! I was planning a special gathering with menus selcted. Deciding I was tired of reading bottles and 3X5 cards propped on shelves I ventured into Cloverleaf. I loved the space but more importantly loved how Tom and his staff were able to assist and educate me without overwhelming me. It was a relief to be able to turn the wine pairings over to experts who know both food and wine! I learn something every time I go in to share with guests. I still don’t drink but I do bask in many compliments. How did I know wrapping up a great meal with a wonderful desert wine would add such a special note to an evening? From the guys at Cloverleaf! Thanks!

  • ron

    Great Store! Tom and team really enjoy and know wine. Once they get a feel for your pallet, all is good! They have a great selection of niche and boutique wines that you will not find at the run of the mill store. If you can’t find something, chances are, they can order it. Great team and great store! You owe it to yourself to stop in and try one of their suggestions.

  • http://www.midwestguest.com Dominique

    Frank-You think that’s bad? I knew people who sat on that committee for several terms.
    Even though the Sign Board of Appeals is gone, the city still has plenty of committees http://www.ci.royal-oak.mi.us/clerk/boards.html

    One of my favorites was always the Naming Committee :lol:

  • http://cloverleafwine.com CHET

    All thanks for the accolades!!!!! If there is anything you we could to do improve our service to you please don’t hesitate to ask.

    I am not sure if you are aware of this but our upstairs space is available to rent for private parties and it is some of the most unique party space in metro Detroit. All are welcome to stop in and check it out.

  • Booshido

    The Cloverleaf makes me want to pop open a bottle of wine every night. My last visit to the store was such a pleasant experience and they helped us pick up a really good bottle of red (of course with reasonable price) for our guests later that night.

  • Brandon

    Wow! I knew this place was special after I wandered in — and on the first visit, on a tight budget, I was still treated well by the staff. The building was beautiful and I wanted to get photos of it on our blog. Apparently my “discovery” has already been discovered by a lot of loyal fans! Thanks for the great comments!

    Dominique: thanks for the background on the signs. These poor local businesses have so many hoops to go through — this sign is beautiful and I’m glad it was approved.

    Frank: Agreed

    Annie: Amen

    Kyle: Great job on the signs. Glad that it worked out! Hope you can get some more of your work in our community

    John: Amen again — they’ll give great service whether you’re there for a case or a $12 bottle . . .

    Aileen: How sweet of you to buy great wine for your friends, even though you’re not an imbiber.

    Ron: Yes!

    Dominique: it is easy to criticize when stuff goes bad, and harder to notice when stuff is going right. It’s great that so many people are involved in our local government — some decisions leave me scratching my head, though… the BBQ place, Bordine’s etc. If they’d at least give a public explanation for their thinking it would be easier to get . . .

    Chet: you’re welcome! Let us know of any events — wish you had tastings like my favorite wine shops in Boston did! (You’re always welcome to invite me to come over and give you some feedback on your full-bodied reds!)

    Booshido: I agree ;) That was a really good bottle of red.

    Awesome to see so much enthusiasm about one of our local businesses! Any suggestions for other businesses we should feature for our Buy Local series? Please leave them here!

  • Mark C

    Love the Cloverleaf! Love the wine updates that lead me to get great tasting wines at great prices! Love the “custom” six packs of cool beer that I put together for myself.

    Love the location in my adopted hometown!

    If you haven’t been there get there today (tomorrow!)

  • Brandon

    Hey Mark — what’s the story with the custom six packs? Can you mix and match? (If so, Scott forgot to sell me on that during our interview!!!)

  • Dave

    All: We do a weekly Cloverleaf email newsletter highlighting the week’s specials in wine and craft beer. Be sure to sign up for it at the front desk next time you are in.

    Re: Beer. Our new “beer cave” features 350 different labels from around the world, with a concentration on American craft beers such as Short’s, Founders, Dogfish Head etc. We will be beefing this up to 500 labels.

    And yes, you CAN buy all beers singly, mix and match a six or a case as you’d like.

  • http://www.thehealthyeatingguide.com Scott

    Glad to see an excellent local shop getting some much-deserved props.

    I picked up one of the best bottles of Pinot Noir I’ve ever had for around $15 with the help of their staff.

    Their newsletter is great too … check it out!

  • Brandon

    Thanks, Scott. Funny – I was just telling my friends about this place today and one ask me: “Is it one of those places where they help you, or are they kind of snooty?” As you can see from the comments above, it’s definitely the former. They know a lot about their product without looking down their noses at you if you don’t know your tanins from your . . . whatevers! I get the newsletter too now — just a once a week affair (I hate it when you sign up for a newsletter that turns into spam — USAirways: I do not want to hear about a special FTD flowers special you have!) that gives me some ideas for new things to try.

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  • http://www.largepot.net/information-news/preparing-planter-boxes/ Large Planter Box

    Excellent! Great article, I already saved it to my
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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XPJO7FMRFWMQPRECAYFSGCW7AM Robert James

    Wow it really looks wonderful to see wines on a pallet rack.The pallet rack seems very interesting and the way the bottles are arranged it looks amazing..

    pallet racks