Left, Fruit Wine Co. buyer & manager Mark Lowry. Right, co-owner, Jackson Rohrbaugh, M.S. Char Beck Photography.

New business to be named Fruit Wine Co.

Crunchy Red Fruit, a Seattle-based wine club, has merged with Seattle Wine Co., a Bellevue, Washington-based brick-and-mortar retailer. The new company will be called Fruit Wine Co.

“This will combine what we’ve been doing online with what they have going on in-person,” says Jackson Rohrbaugh, M.S., founder of Crunchy Red Fruit and co-owner of Fruit Wine Co.

The combined businesses will offer retail shopping, tastings, events, and educational opportunities at the former Seattle Wine Co. location in Bellevue’s Spring District. Going forward, the store will also include a wider spectrum of wines.

“We’re going to continue to support those customers who enjoy high-end Napa Cabernet and things like that,” says Rohrbaugh, who received his master sommelier diploma in 2017. “But you’re also going to see Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. You’re going to see Quintarelli – some of the world’s greatest wines. They will be next to the best of what Washington is doing, which is really exciting.”

The shop will also sell some of the more eclectic wines featured by Crunchy Red Fruit. Rohrbaugh started the company in 2019 after working for over a decade at Seattle’s high-flying Canlis restaurant, most recently as assistant wine director.

“There was a category of wines that were getting missed, wines made from slightly more unknown grape varieties or lesser known producers,” he says of starting the company. “I found myself super compelled by that, and I wanted to keep exploring that.”

Crunchy Red Fruit club shipments include information about the selected wines. However, they also focus on wine’s experiential aspect, with suggested food and music pairings.

“I don’t expect people to pair the exact same music or food that I do,” Rohrbaugh says. “It’s more about thinking outside the box and thinking creatively about the way something can enhance the experience of drinking wine.”

Focusing on experience will also be at the heart of Fruit Wine Co. The building includes warehouse space for Crunchy Red Fruit’s operations, with the wine club retaining its name. The building also has an event space, which will be used for tastings and educational classes.

“It will allow me to flex my sommelier muscles and hopefully take people through an educational journey,” says Rohrbaugh.

Seattle Wine Co. was founded in 2003 by Nabil and Karen Absi, who sold the store earlier this year. Fruit Wine Co. will have its grand opening September 30th.

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