TRAVERSE CITY — Blue Goat Wine & Provisions has a new boss. He's the same as the old boss.
Sebastian Garbsch now owns the iconic Traverse City wine shop, along with his wife, Holly, who works full time for Hagerty. They were members of a partnership that two years ago purchased the then-closed retail wine shop.
"It just proved to be difficult to have three different owners," said Garbsch.
Partner Linda Price was executive director of the Cordia Club when the Blue Goat partnership formed in 2017. She since has moved out of the area, Garbsch said. The other partner was Amanda Danielson, co-proprietor of Trattoria Stella and The Franklin. The partners separated on friendly terms, Garbsch said.
Garbsch, a Certified Personal Trainer, spends most weekday mornings at his other business, personal training studio Formative Fitness, 131 E. State St. He switches gears most afternoons and works at the Blue Goat.
"It's fun having two different passions," he said.
His passion for health was sparked by his father's early death from a heart attack. He tempers his interest in good health with a passion for wine.
"It's a fun balance for me," said Garbsch. "It's all about moderation."
Garbsch recently poured a few changes into the Blue Goat, 875 East Front St.
He is continuing the partnership's practice of organizing the shop, not by price or geographic region, but by flavor profile. The intention is to make it easy for customers to hone in on bottles that align with their flavor preferences.
"It's all about providing things people want and things people don't know they want," said Blue Goat Sommelier Ryan Rozycki.
Large signs across the shop's south wall denote sections like "Big, oaky, rich," "Floral, crisp, versatile," and "Harmonious, complex, round." Garbsch has further refined the shop's organization by populating the bottom row of each section with local wines. Garbsch hopes that customers can easily find a wine they're familiar with and be confident that the wines in that section will share flavor similarities.
"We want to be a very comfortable place you feel you can learn about wine," Garbsch said.
Rozycki's job as sommelier is to guide customers toward wines that fit their preferences. He's also responsible for choosing which wines the shop stocks. A big part of that process is listening to customers.
In recent weeks, the shop has added more small bottles in response to demand. And it is stocking more high-end wines like Dom, Opus One and Caymus Special Selection. It installed an additional cooler to stock more cheeses and charcuteries (cold cooked meats). It offers free tastings every Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A catering permit now allows the shop to offer off-premises wine tasting events.
Demand for beer is growing. Blue Goat expanded its offerings, and beer now accounts for about 25 percent of the shop's sales, said Garbsch.
While the shop stocks expensive high-end wines, Garbsch said, he also strives to stock more popular wines at price levels similar to big box stores.
Blue Goat Wine & Provisions is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday through Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. More information is available at bluegoattc.com.