Galloping Grape blending leather and wine

By Posted on Oct 23 2014 | By

Specialty shops are a minority of the 23 million small businesses operating nationwide.

But one such shop opened eight years ago in Warrenton and is gaining popularity with each passing year. And why? Because the saddle and wine shop, Galloping Grape, attracts a loyal group familiar to the Piedmont region: Wine loving horse people.

Kim Pinello

Kim Pinello

“I have a fantastic wine crowd and equally great saddle customer base,” said owner Kim Pinello. “A lot of the business overlaps. They come in for fly sprays and bridles and will definitely pick up a few bottles of wine.”

Pinello explains that horse folks often enjoy a glass of vino so the shop’s target audience has produced growth every year since its opening in 2006.

But is it all Fauquier County fans? No way. “More than 30 percent of my business comes from Culpeper County. A large saddle shop in Culpeper closed a few years ago and since then my Culpeper customers have increased each year. When that shop closed, all of his traffic came our way,” said a smiling Pinello.

So how does one conjure up a business model rarely seen elsewhere? “I was an accountant working in DC and the commute was a nightmare. I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Pinello. So the entrepreneur began looking for an alternate lifestyle.

She and her husband own a ten acre farm in Fauquier County with a stable of five horses. As a professional accountant she had a head for numbers and knew an option to the grinding commute was only a good idea away. Oh, and she loved wine.

“I wanted to open a saddle store—our county needed another shop—particularly one that was consignment,” said Pinello. “But I knew I needed something else to sell. Saddles don’t walk out the door every day. I wanted something that brought in the every day traffic.”

Serendipitously, an old Southern States feed store came up for lease as she ruminated on how to build a business. “I found that crummy old building and saw how we could possibly renovate it. We came up with the concept and the store name in one weekend and signed the lease on Monday,” said Pinello.

A few years ago, the store relocated to an upscale setting at 143 E. Shirley Avenue across the street from the Fauquier Horse Show grounds. Location is everything, eh?

IMG_9167On the leather side of the house there is a wide selection of saddles covering the riding interests of any equestrian. English, western, endurance and dressage saddles are offered for sale; most are stocked on consignment from the local horse set and priced to sell.

All riding-related gear is also available: riding helmets, bridles, saddle pads, sprays, and shampoos, “everything you need for your horse.” Pinello assures that most of her leather inventory is made in America.

Along side the rows of burnished leather saddles, there are over 800 selections of wine. It’s an impressive collection of high quality bottlings sure to please discriminating palates. And while the wine is competitively priced, the store’s policy is to beat or match any bottle purchased elsewhere. “We want our customers to stay here and shop for their wine, not the local grocery store,” emphasizes Pinello.IMG_9173

Free wine tastings are held each Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and all day Saturday.

Over 75 craft beer selections round out the libation portfolio. Keg beer is also sold. “We sell tons of kegs” that are likely welcomed at many a horse event.

For the cowboys, there is a humidor with over 50 hand rolled cigar selections.

With an obvious streak for creativity, Pinello also features horse and wine related art that grace the walls of the shop. “We have a variety of artwork and iron work and strive to get anything created by local artists” that fits the shop’s theme.

“Business is fantastic. It grows every year. This is by far the happiest place I can be. I love my customers and I can’t brag enough about my little shop,” said Pinello.

Great affirmation from a former road warrior who got out of her car and on to a horse to make her dreams come true.

Galloping Grape is opened 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and closed Sundays. Visit http://www.gallopinggrape.com/ for complete information on products and events.


John’s Pick of the monthIMG_9189

Roederer Estate



For the last several years, I have encouraged wine drinkers to break the mold and drink more sparkling wine. It’s not just for special occasions. It’s delicious anytime; especially in the summer months.

One can’t go wrong grabbing a bottle of this Brut (dry) sparkler at the Galloping Grape. It’s a French-owned winery located in California’s Anderson Valley.

Here’s Wine Spectator’s take on this tasty bubbly:
“Focused and vibrant, with aromas of creamy apple, cinnamon and hazelnut leading to complex, layered flavors of lemon custard, mineral and almond. The finish lingers.”
91 points.



Published in the October 2, 2014  edition of the Culpeper Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES