sara webber john clift
Sara Webber and John Clift have put their passion for wine and coffee into two new businesses.

Peruse the shelves at Vintage MV Wine and Spirits in Edgartown and you may walk away with a fresh perspective, along with a choice bottle or two. Take rosé, for example. The pink wine is often disregarded as being too sweet or too light, reserved for an unsophisticated palette. But for shop owner John Clift, who’s made a career out of his discerning taste for wine, a crisp rosé can be the perfect pairing for a hot summer night on the Vineyard.

“Rosé is great for an everyday wine,” John says. “You can have a rosé at $10 that’s bright, fresh, and dry.”

Wine is nothing new to John, who managed Great Harbour Gourmet and Spirits in Edgartown for eight years and now works as the sommelier at Atria in Edgartown and Hooked in Oak Bluffs. “I’ve always loved the balance of retail and restaurant,” he says. “Sometimes I get more excited about $15 bottles of wine than the $100 bottles – it’s a challenge sometimes to find that great $15 bottle.”

John trained at the International Wine Academy in Rome and travels every winter to taste new varieties. This past winter he and co-owner Sara Webber visited Australia, New Zealand, and Italy. “Learning is ongoing,” he says. “There are two thousand grape varietals alone in Italy. It’s a never-ending journey.”

John and Sara are always looking at the QPR, he says, or the quality-price ratio. That’s what has drawn them to Spanish wines. “In the last five years or so, a lot more Spanish producers have come into the US,” John says. “There have been a couple of great imports through them in the $12 to $15 range.”

Just above the pinot grigio rack at Vintage MV is a window into Coffee Culture, the adjoining coffee shop and the pair’s other venture. “Sara and I are very passionate about coffee,” John says. In preparation for opening Coffee Culture, they attended barista schools in several countries.

The java side is linked to Counter Culture Coffee, a progressive roasting company based out of North Carolina. Before a coffee shop can sell Counter Culture Coffee product, the owners and baristas must first take a course with the company (offered in Massachusetts at their facility in Somerville) and be approved for use.

“We’re taking the same progressive attitude in the wine shop and bringing it next door to create the best cup of coffee,” John says. “I think there’s good coffee on the Island, but it hasn’t been taken to the level with the machines that we’ve bought.”

John says the link between coffee and wine was a natural choice. “That person who’s into coffee is the same consumer who’s into the wine that we’re into,” he says. “It’s a good fit.”

Drink up!

The growing presence of coffee and wine goes beyond Nevin Square. Check out these new hot spots in Edgartown to get your drink on:

Behind the Bookstore. Nestled behind Edgartown Books in a former needlepoint store, BTB (as it’s more commonly known) flew in a pastry chef and a barista from Los Angeles to run this gem, with latté art, a downtown vibe, and outdoor seating.

Tocco Puro. Coffee returns to South Water Street with this new year-round shop, opened by the owners of Pure Touch Salon next door. Jay and Mindy Kirwin sell gourmet fair-trade and organic coffee, sandwiches, and Italian pastries and gelato. Try bubble tea, a popular Asian iced tea with flavored tapioca pearls.

Port Supply Edgartown Spirits. This package and provisions store on Main Street is perfect for getting your beach picnic in order. Pick up the latest microbrew or artisanal liquor, a bocce ball set, all the necessary picnic accoutrements (including baskets, plates, and settings), and hit the shore for the sunset.

MV Wine and Spirits. Up-Islanders will rejoice when this new liquor store opens by the airport. Brion McGroarty, owner of Town Provisions Company in Edgartown, will be relocating his business after spending twenty-three years in downtown Edgartown. The store is expected to open in early fall in a new space adjacent to Flatbread Company.