Marie Tribouilloy’s new wine shop Forêt Wines is already a well-stocked extension of her living room. Tribouilloy is one of the owners of Ops, a pizzeria and natural wine hub, which opened in the fall of 2016. Having a shop was the next step. Now her record player sits inside a sun-filled space on Forest Avenue (working in the restaurant industry, she jokes that she’s never home), attempting to fill a gap in the neighborhood’s beverage scene. Forêt, French for forest, sells natural wines at all price points—there’s an ample selection in the $12 to $15 range—to the Ridgewood community.
Over the years Tribouilloy has developed relationships with producers and importers. A friend suggested a shop, and the space, which sits between the Sundown Bar and Cafe Esencia, was vacant. She applied for a liquor license last summer and had it approved in mid-December. She tried to get open for the holidays but the paperwork came through in early January, a challenging time to open a wine shop.
She worried, “I’m never gonna sell any wine in January, everyone stops drinking. It turns out it’s fine, everyone’s still drinking wine.” Since her soft opening on Thursday, Jan. 10, there’s been a steady stream of local residents, eager to talk, get recommendations and try new wines. The crowd is “a good combination of people, who I’ve never met, and who live in the neighborhood and just walked by, and a lot of people who came to Ops and knew that I was opening this. There are lots of people in the industry who live around here too.”
Tribouilloy’s love for the neighborhood is huge, she’s a regular at many local spots including Burek Pizza, Little Egypt and The Seneca (she loves their breakfast tacos). Her neighboring businesses feel like family, she says, “It feels like a tv show, we are always visiting each other’s shops.” Inside the details are coming together as curtains and knick-knacks arrive. Tribouilloy studied graphic design and designed the logo, which she handstamps on each bag.
Her mission for the shop is to support the winemakers she loves and help people find wines to enjoy, “It’s not a destination and I don’t necessarily want it to be, I want it to be curated for people who live around here. So, I think it’s important to have the $12 bottle you can just drink at home with a random simple dinner, or the bottle you want to bring to a party, or a fancy dinner.”
In the coming months, Tribouilloy will build an online store to ship wines and start a subscription wine club with curated cases for members. Tastings will happen frequently and the shop will eventually host winemaker dinners. Customer feedback is hugely important as she learns people’s tastes and checks on her recommendations. Tell her what you’re having for dinner and she’ll be delighted to suggest a wine. Natural wines tend to be more versatile, she assures, and there’s no need to stick to old fashioned pairing rules, especially when people’s palates are so diverse.
If you prefer not to chat, she labels the wines with detailed tags that lean a little goofy. The selection leans towards France, where Tribouilloy is from (she grew up in the Alps), and also features wines from Italy, Spain, and the U.S. She’s got lots of reds for “the cold season” and is on a major Riesling kick.
There are so many ways to describe natural wine, but Tribouilloy’s is simple and approachable: “For me, the vines need to be grown organically, I prefer biodynamic practices. [There should be] as little intervention on the wines as possible, with nothing added. If anything, a little sulfur added at bottling.”
In short, for Tribouilloy, natural winemakers are, “Making honest wines, that are respectful of nature and of the people who are drinking it too.”
Hours (through end of February): Thursday-Sunday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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Cover photo courtesy of author.