Amy Grabish was in high school when she learned that a friend’s mom called her a pip—not exactly a term of endearment as far as she was concerned. So it was a bit of a clapback when Grabish opened The Pip Wine Bar & Shop in downtown Dixon last March. “A pip is the seed you find in a grape, so it was only fitting,” says Grabish.
For Grabish, wine was a calling she couldn’t ignore. “My parents would ask me, ‘Why wine?’ I told them I have the rest of my life to have a desk job.” She worked in wine sales and marketing on the East Coast for several years before putting down roots in California in 2003.
Grabish admits she hadn’t heard of Dixon until she started dating the man who’s now her husband, who owned a home there. She eventually moved to the tight-knit community while continuing to sell wine to fine restaurants and local shops around the region. But the long work commutes were wearing on her.
“I loved my job and my customers, but being on the road and putting 200 miles on the car in a day was getting old,” she says. As Grabish observed more and more people move to Dixon from the East Bay and elsewhere, she saw an opportunity. “The more I thought about downtown Dixon, I realized it was going somewhere.”
While The Pip’s wine bar is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, the shop, which offers delivery, caters to customers who appreciate what Grabish describes as a “groovy selection” of wines that shoppers won’t find at Costco. “My selection is not predominantly from any one country,” she says. “My goal is to have a nice balance,” including bottles from Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Portugal and South Africa.
Launching a new business days before the stay-at-home order was issued wasn’t ideal, but Grabish has capitalized on the opportunity to cultivate relationships with her wine shop clientele. “I’m able to focus on customer service. They can tell me what they like and don’t like,” she explains. “Even though some of these relationships are virtual, it’s really nice to be able to chitchat with people about wine and food.”