361 Atwells Avenue, Providence | 401-421-WINE
A Worldly Experience
A visit to Gasbarro’s Wines is more than just a stop for a bottle of wine. It's an experience. It can be educational, where you learn a little (or a lot) about wine regions and winemakers. It can take you around the world, skipping through the wine offerings of five continents. It can even take you back in time to 1898, when the wine shop first opened on Atwells Avenue, and get a taste of the values that are still at the core of the business. “We aim to make it a different, even fun, experience for customers,” says Mark Gasbarro, fourth-generation owner. “Buying wine should be an enjoyable experience.”
Their selection of wine is not only unmatched in Rhode Island, it’s one of the most impressive collections in the US. Of the 1,600 labels offered, 900 are from Italy. A diverse selection from California, France and Portugal, among other regions, are part of the exclusive inventory. “Our focus is predominantly on Italian wines,” says Mark. “We represent all 20 regions with mostly hard-to-find labels.” The commitment to showcasing so many wines, some from boutique vineyards, starts with personal relationships with the makers. “We travel once a year to Italy to meet makers in person and to explore regions.”
Gasbarro’s enormous selection is also varied in price points. “The $10 bottle customer is just as important as the $100 bottle customer,” Mark says, adding that the store has a great selection of interesting wines from $10 to $75. “Our mission is to make wine accessible for everyone.” The well-educated staff creates a welcoming environment, guiding customers who are looking for a specific taste, region or price. “We are passionate about all the wines we carry, and we’re just as passionate about sharing our knowledge with our clients.”
Wine enthusiasts are encouraged to explore the shop’s extraordinary walk-in wine cellar. The climate-controlled room features 4,000 bottles beautifully displayed on custom mahogany racks. The collection, which has been lauded by Wine Spectator and Food & Wine, offers trophy wines starting at $75. “It’s for the curious and the collector,” Mark says. Though wine is the speciality here, you can also choose from 160 beers and 500 spirits.
History in the Making
Mark’s great grandfather, an Italian immigrant, opened Gasbarro’s Wines 118 years ago. “We’re the oldest wine retailer in the country, the longest-standing business on Federal Hill,” he says. “It’s an honor to be a part of it.” He started working full-time at 16, and having graduating Providence College with a degree in accounting, Mark become the fourth-generation owner in 2002.
The storefront went through a major renovation in 2011, creating a beautifully designed and ultra modern showroom. Hardwood floors, speciality lighting and new shelves were installed to give customers a relaxed experience. A custom-made table was added to the front of the store for Table for Ten, a private tasting experience that is customized for individuals or companies. “We work with local restaurants to pair food with the educational experience,” Mark adds. A complimentary monthly tasting is an exceptional opportunity to meet international winemakers and sample new and exciting varietals. “We always encourage customers to try before they purchase,” he says, adding that wines featured are offered at a discount. One-of-a-kind services also include complimentary statewide delivery six days a week, consulting, private events and a wine club.
A Community Uncorked
Being an active and supportive member of the community is an essential part of Mark’s mission.
“I feel an obligation to give back to the community,” Mark explains. The shop partners with several non-profits, such as Friends Way and Adoption RI, and organizes its own signature fundraiser, a Taste for a Cause, to benefit the Oncology Program at Women and Infants each fall. Located at the Aldrich Mansion, the event hosts upwards of 400 guests and features over 80 exclusive wines from around the world, food stations, entertainment and a silent auction.
Mark, who has two young children with his wife Susan, feels fortunate to love his job and his Federal Hill community. “It’s the best decision I ever made. I’m so grateful to be part of this vibrant community of hard-working families.”