Next Teller, please. (You can bank on it!)
Steve Kogler’s recent departure from Teller Wines could have been a tragedy for thirsty oenophiles far and wide. His personal touch and friendly attitude made the potentially intimidating ordeal of wine selection into a relaxed and enjoyable experience.
But it’s no secret that his first love is artisanal breads. His great-grandparents emigrated from Germany in the late 1800s, bringing with them the Old World recipes that have survived in his family to this day. It’s those same recipes that gave rise to Old World Breads, crafted at his own facility in Ellendale.
But inside every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud: As his baking increased in popularity, there was less time for his beloved Lewes wine shop. But who could assume ownership of Teller Wines and still provide the personal service for which he was so well known? A couple of loyal customers who were originally drawn to that personal service filled the bill perfectly: Kevin and Catherine Hester.
Catherine emigrated from Taiwan early in life. She was high school friends with Kevin, and after losing touch for seven years, they reconnected during her second year in law school. They were married two years later and moved to Columbia, Md., where she landed a position with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. Maternity leave ended up lasting for seven years as she concentrated on raising their children. She eventually became a criminal prosecuting attorney for Baltimore City, but the emotional trauma of wayward juveniles and hard-core narcotics was, in her words, “A little too much.” She made the transition to the less frenetic (but less engaging) field of regulatory law, becoming a consumer advocate for the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel.
They loved the food and wine culture here at the beach and visited often. Though Kevin was successful in his information technology career, it was evident that they were destined to become full-time residents, even toying with the idea of opening some type of food retailer or a restaurant. “I can’t not live here at the beach,” explains Catherine. As devoted oenophiles, they discovered that they “…didn’t have to drive west anymore. We just went to Steve and bought exactly what we needed.”
As a volunteer for Coastal Concerts, it was a fateful day when Catherine approached Kogler about advertising in an event program. After all, classical concertgoers are an ideal audience for a wine retailer. But Kogler declined, confiding that he was going to sell Teller Wines. She dropped everything and rushed home to Kevin. “This is it. We should do it.” And do it they did, shaking hands with Steve and the lawyers on April 2 of this year.
One of the major amenities that distinguishes Teller Wines is the way they categorize the overwhelming sea of bottles. Rather than challenging the newbie with signs like “Pouilly-Fuissé” and “Chilean Reds,” Teller tempts with easy-to-understand flavor profiles. The store is divided into nine sections, from “Fresh & Clean” to “Aromatic and Crisp” to “Juicy and Fruity” and everything in between. Of course the more experienced wine enthusiast can still request particular labels and vineyards, but browsing becomes more user-friendly when your desired taste is paired with familiar flavors. Kevin points out, “If you know what you like, you can go right to it.”
Another convenience is Teller’s personalized wine portfolio. When customers join the database, the system remembers every bottle they ever purchased. If you downed a delightfully impertinent yet bumptious Sangiovese two years ago, the computer will reveal exactly what it was.
As if she doesn’t have enough to do, Catherine also serves as a part-time Dewey Beach alderman, passing judgment on minor misdemeanors and traffic violations. “The law called,” she smiles, “and it gives me a break from the routine. The bad news is that I can’t hang out at Dewey Beach bars.”
Meet Kevin and Catherine at Teller Wines on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend when Kevin fires up his Green Egg grill/smoker to make pork sliders. Fresh rolls will be provided by Annabella’s next door, and the boys at 16 Mile Brewery will provide the beer. It’s all free.
Pork sliders. Beer. The always friendly Teller Wines. Sounds like the perfect way to start the 2013 season!