Firefly Outfitters is like walking into a well-loved bookstore, except instead of shelves full of books, there is carefully curated wine; instead of searching by genres and new releases, you’ll browse by countries of import and grape varietals. Having relied primarily on word-of-mouth promotion since opening in 2016, the shop flies slightly under the radar, but it has nonetheless become an oft-frequented shop by locals and seasonal residents.
On my first visit to this eclectic Sister Bay wine shop, I soon realized I hadn’t allotted enough time to do the browsing I wished to do. The shop draws you in: It’s stocked floor to ceiling with obscure varieties of wine and spirits, folk art, gifts and other curiosities sprinkled throughout. According to shop owners Jennifer and Collin Dahl, there are currently around 800 bottles of wine to explore.
The Dahls foster a shared love of wine, which they first discovered when they met in Door County in 1996. Jennifer got an introduction to the world of wine when she studied abroad; then she spent time in beverage distribution. Collin developed an interest in Italitan wines during college. The idea of opening a wine shop grew legs when the space next to Collin’s law-practice office became available, allowing them to take their passion for vino to a new, shareable level.
“My friends say it’s my hobbies gone wild,” said Jennifer, who also makes soap and stocks non-wine items for the shop.
It’s no simple task to stay current in wine, but Jennifer and Collin accomplish it through plenty of research, studying wine lists and meeting frequently with their multiple distributors. Their primary goal is to carry varieties that are both interesting and good tasting. New bottles are stocked weekly year round, and the majority of selections are from small producers. That means that there is a very limited amount of wine available, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
“We carry mostly European wine[s] because they are harder to find and are only available in small quantities,” Jennifer said. “We don’t carry anything that is sold in other retail locations because why duplicate?” Collin added.
Shoppers will find bottles ranging from 187-mL mini bottles (equal to half a bottle of wine) to the 12-L size (equal to 16 bottles of wine), which are used to really kick off a celebration. Rosé, the darling of summer wine drinking, is available in 50 to 60 varieties. And there’s also a variety of 30 or so chilled bottles that are ready to enjoy.
“A lot of people visit expecting the prices to be expensive – something that is associated with fine wine,” Collin said, “but a large amount of our bottles are at the $20-or-under price point and start at $11.” Craft spirits, liqueurs, cocktail mixers and hard-to-find food items are also stocked, including a good variety of amaros and vermouths.
On the outfitter side, chefs’ knives have recently become a hot-selling item. Opinel-brand knives and Japanese-style knives are sought after for mushroom hunting, oyster shucking and use in the service industry.
If you’re looking to expand your wine experience and introduce your palate to one-of-a-kind varieties, I’d recommend visiting Firefly Outfitters. New to the wine world? Jennifer and Collin are very knowledgeable and can help you find a bottle to suit your taste. Just arrive with a price point and a general wine preference in mind. Looking for a special bottle or a favorite from a local wine list? They’re able to assist with that as well, as long as the wine is distributed in Wisconsin.
Visit Firefly Outfitters year round at 10589 S. Highland Road, Suite 3, in Sister Bay. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 5:30 pm; and Sunday, 12-4 pm.