In 2013, Angela Strickland and Chantelle Chiron opened Independent Wine Store, a boutique bottle shop directly opposite Rye Front Beach and Yacht Club.
With close to 25 years of industry experience, Ange wanted to create a space to showcase small producers and share the stories of family-run vineyards and vignerons. It didn’t take much convincing for her partner Chantelle – a design architect – to come on board with the concept.
Together, the pair have built up a selection of 500 local and international wines, each hand-picked and quaffed for quality control. With a relatively small footprint, only the best bottles make the cut.
“We take a lot of care with what ends up on our shelves," says Ange, “I think that’s our biggest point of difference”. It isn't just about taste – though that’s the entry ticket – variety, style, region, and price point also inform their choice. If a wine ticks all these boxes and happens to have a fun label or interesting backstory, it’s a bonus.
Inside, the fit-out is warm and welcoming, with splashes of colour, natural cork and timber used throughout. The custom wine racks are well-stocked and well-spaced, inviting you to take your time between aisles. As for the maps on the walls? They aren’t just art, they’re an oft-used resource that allows the team to pinpoint specific wine regions.
Whilst your standard bottle-o might opt for dark and dingy displays, the fridges here are bright and white, becoming frosty beacons in the summer months. The brew fridge is stacked with craft beers, ciders, seltzers and sours, available in packs or singles, and there’s a growing range of non-alcoholic options in there, too.
With a small team of knowledgeable staff, you can expect relaxed and casual service each time you visit. You’ll be encouraged to explore, ask questions and – if you’re up for it – try something new. Rather than jumping straight into varietals, the conversation might start with what you’re cooking for dinner that night, or who’s coming over on the weekend. The whole experience is designed to be fun and approachable – not stuffy or pretentious.
“You don’t need to understand the technicalities to appreciate wine,” says Chantelle. “We’ll happily give you our personal recommendations”.
For those looking to drink local, around 15% of the bottles in store are sourced from small, independent wineries on the Mornington Peninsula. Local producers include Garagiste, Kerri Greens, Principia, Stilvi and Solum Wines, with regular masterclasses and in-store tastings hosted by the winemakers. If you're on the hunt for hard-to-find minimal intervention wines, you're in luck. Here, there's a decent selection of pet nats and skins contact amber wines available, many with organic or biodynamic certification.
For those who prefer spirits, head to the far corner, and you’ll find a shelf dedicated to rare and unusual gins. You can pick up a bottle of Gincello from the Adelaide Hills, a Mandarin Gimlet made in Marrickville, or a savoury Umami Gin from French Distillery, Audemus. If it’s hot, you might opt for a bottle of Yuzushu – a zesty combination of yuzu and sake that makes a killer citrus spritzer – just ask Chantelle for the recipe.
A tight retail section covers all the bases for boozy picnics and dinner parties, think: chips, cheese, charcuterie, and chocolate. You can fill a basket with artisan crackers and jalapeno crisps, local cheeses, peninsula nuts, fancy smoked sardines, and a bottle of Moorak Pinot Meunier or Anchovy Toast Beer.
Independent Wine Store is open six days a week, with their timber tables stationed out the front in the summer months. You can wander in after a day at the beach and choose from a concise list by the glass or any bottle in store, with a small selection of matched snacks available. You'll find upcoming events and masterclasses listed on the website and handwritten on the blackboard in-store.