One of the area’s best-loved wine shops is located where you’d least expect it: inside an AM/PM convenience store on Sheldon Road near Highway 99 in Elk Grove. “It’s extremely unconventional,” admits Lori Alaniz, manager of Sheldon Wine Shop, which is situated just steps from a car wash and a frozen yogurt shop. “I think it’s just about the most unpretentious premium wine tasting you can ever experience.”
Alaniz isn’t exaggerating. “You can sit here and eat some McDonald’s fries from next door and drink a bottle of Cristal if you want,” she says. “We’ve even paired a Subway sandwich with a Kathryn Hall cabernet, which is a $200 bottle.” Join the store’s wine club and you get a car wash.
With more than 11,000 bottles in stock (the vast majority of them with ratings of 90 points or higher), the shop has a little something for everyone. “We carry wines priced from $5.99 to $1,000,” says Alaniz, “but the higher-end wines are the biggest draw. We stock a lot of small-production stuff that you just can’t get at your big-box stores. Napa cabs are probably our specialty; we carry around 100 of them.”
Tastings, which happen five days a week, attract scores of regulars. “This has literally become Cheers for many, many people,” says Alaniz. “We have several customers who come two or three times a week. People have become best friends in here. It’s just an amazing family of people who enjoy this place.”
For Alaniz, who formerly worked in marketing and event planning and is active in the local nonprofit scene, the unassuming little gem is integral to the community—and vice versa. “I know Elk Grove, I’ve drank with Elk Grove, so I have a good sense of what our clientele want. This is an amazing place that draws everybody.”