Business Spotlight: Cork & Fork Fine Wines

Today’s post features Antoinette Landragin, manager of Cork & Fork Fine Wines (1522 14th Street NW). Cork & Fork is a wine store run by a family of wine lovers focused on changing the world for the better, one great bottle of wine at a time.

Tell us about your business! When was it founded and what inspired you to start your business?

While working as a traveling winemaker between France and Australia, owner and founder of Cork & Fork, Dominique Landragin, came to the USA during a visit while marketing Champagne Landragin. During this visit, Dominique saw opportunities in making wine in the States. He took to the skies to pursue a new opportunity with Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery in the historic winemaking state of Virginia. Dominique became President of this pioneering wine estate on the East Coast. Here, Dominique worked both with his Virginian employer, as well as famous Californian wine producers, such as Ehler’s Estate in the prestigious Napa Valley.

Today, the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., is where Dominique calls home and it is here where Cork & Fork is located. Dominique started this wine store as his retirement project with his wife of 45 years, Anna, and daughter, Antoinette. Cork & Fork carries over 1,200 references and specializes in small grower Champagnes, niche selections from various wine-producing pockets in France, and a refined selection of cult, premium Californian wines from Napa Valley and Sonoma County, purchased from exclusive sources from the USA’s West Coast. All of this is achieved while offering an accessible and welcoming atmosphere for wine lovers.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Antoinette Landragin. I manage this family-owned wine business with passion and embrace many roles within the company, one of which is Head Wine Buyer. In this position, I choose to stock the shelves with wines from environmentally, socially, and economically ethical wineries. My extensive resumé of wine certificates, industry accolades, judging experience, and wine travel to over 14 different wine-producing countries for wine-related study allows for the acquisition of the finest quality wines at Cork & Fork. I hold the following certifications: Level III Advanced (WSET), Champagne Master (WSG), French Wine Scholar Advanced (WSG), Italian Wine Professional (Certified ICE/ITA), and am working to obtain the following: Level IV (WSET) as a pre-requisite for the Master of Wine Progam, Spanish Wine Scholar (WSG), and Award in Sake Lvl 1 (WSET).

When buying wine for the store, I always couple wine quality with positive social and environmental impacts. Each winery is researched, and each wine closely analyzed before being stocked. I value personal client engagement as a priority and gaining consumer trust by selling honest and transparent wines with discerning knowledge for each producer. Consumer education is a signature of the store and is one of my roles. Since the beginning of the establishment of the store, we hosted more than 900 in-store Masterclasses. Since the beginning of May 2020, we hosted almost 100 online Masterclasses. Sharing knowledge with consumers is the best manner to empower the wine-loving community and Cork & Fork does this through an intensive selection of Masterclasses and consumer educational events.

What is unique about your business?

The wines selected for Cork & Fork are quality-driven, elegant, balanced, and food-friendly. The selection is sourced from independently owned importers and distributors. The selection is diverse, offering wines from 25 countries, of which 14 present comprehensive offerings with a range of appellations, varieties, styles, and bottle sizes. Wines are sourced from small, independently owned wineries, estate-grown and vinified, with smaller production levels, minimal intervention winemaking practices including natural winemaking, polyculture, and sustainable farming philosophies, such as biodynamic farming.

The Cork & Fork team further researches the wineries to determine their societal impacts such as local charity contributions, fair wages, diversity hires, hiring locally for harvest when possible, offering benefits for vineyard and winery workers including health care and continuing education opportunities. Based on the owner’s history on the winemaking side of the industry, we pride ourselves in understanding the amount of commitment and dedication being a successful small producer requires. We prefer to support the quality wines of small producers, as doing so enables them to continue doing what they love.

Are you still operating during COVID-19? In what ways?

Yes, fully: we added delivery, shipping, and online Masterclasses.

How can the community support you right now?

Visit our store, buy from our vast value wine selection to get to know us, join our wine club, attend our online Masterclasses, and tell your friends!

What is your favorite thing about this community?

Logan Circle is our family. Being here for more than 10 years now, we embrace our customers as family. We’ve had customers meet in our store and go on to marry and we are invited to special occasions such as weddings and birthdays (pre-COVID). We offer as much as we can to this incredible community and it brings us the greatest joy. Lovely people, lovely energy, lovely hearts. We are blessed to be here, specifically in Logan Circle. Truly blessed.

If you could tell all of the residents in the Logan Circle Main Street area one thing, what would it be?

You are strong, you are beautiful, you are loved, and you WILL get through this pandemic stronger and more beautiful than ever before!