By Rick Riozza

Well—technically, I actually drive south a couple of blocks into Palm Desert.  I know this because as I’m on Hwy 111, I see the Palm Desert city limit sign posted on my right just before I pull onto Fred Waring Drive and then into the Desert Crossing Shopping Center to my new wine rendezvous location.

Yes—you guessed it! I’m now your friendly neighborhood wine steward at Total Wine & More. And—loving it! Please folks, come on in and say hi!—stay awhile, check out my new adventure.

Previously, I was deemed the “wine steward of Rancho Mirage” where I managed the wine department over at Pavilions on Bob Hope & Gerald Ford.  Some of you may remember the great wine selection and great prices we enjoyed at the store—it was one of the best wine collections in our valley! But the very strange West Coast business debacle, where Haggen’s Markets bought some of the Pavilions/Vons/Safeway operations and then went bankrupt immediately thereafter, brought an end to all that!

Interestingly, in my first couples of weeks at Total Wine, I’m meeting up again with so many of my previous Pavilions customers, whom to my delight, have quite happily found themselves at their new wine haven, where they find over eight thousand labels at prices that match any place in town.

Readers of this column know this wine venue quite well by now as I’ve written about this larger-than-life wine, beer & spirits store several times since its opening in 2013.  It’s been my duty and pleasure covering and reporting their great wine deals for you enthusiasts—and, I’ve had a fun time writing about the place in hyperbole.

If I may quote myself from previous columns, I’ve included comments such as:

“It’s a behemoth of a wine store that’s taller than City Hall; wider than the Indian Wells Tennis Garden; longer than a locomotive train, heavier than…well, we’re getting the idea.”

“Actually one cannot help from talking about it because you can’t escape the place! It’s on every horizon in the desert—I’m looking at the mountains right now and I see it!”

“The fact is that Highway 111 is starting to dip right around the store’s location, due to the building’s heft.  There is so much wine, beer, and spirits in that place that if the big earthquake hits, we’re in for torrents of libations flowing through our neighborhood streets. I’d better stock up on some very long and durable straws.”

“I mean—sure the building is large from the outside, but when you walk in and look all around, it’s like one of those sci-fi movies where one enters a large spaceship and inside you find a complete town with streets and stores and airplanes flying.”

“It’s the biggest wine store I’ve ever been in!  I’ve always considered San Francisco, Paris, London, Chicago and New York as the wine capitals of the world, but who would have thunk that here in Palm Desert, the largest wine, beer, and spirits depot in the solar system would be sitting.”

“For any of you wine lovers who have somehow missed Total Wine, you obviously need a pair of glasses—or an atlas.  The place is huge, has its own airport and can serve as ad-hoc army base if need be.” The store figuratively and literally “covers the waterfront”—I say that because, although I missed it, I’m sure there is a waterfront (like a portal to some Bordeaux dock) located somewhere in that store.  I should have brought my binoculars.”

“The numbers of wine available are staggering.  One can find vino from every state and country in the universe.  But watch your step: you may fall into a black hole of wine.  The good news is that you’ll get to taste every great wine in history; the bad news, you’ll return yesterday—it does get messy, but you’ll be okay and will come out of it with a Total Wines T-shirt!”

It’s certainly my pleasure to come on board with such a stellar squad of over-the-top beverage gurus!  I’m now part of an affable team that whose first priority is customer service and to offer the best and most complete selection of beverage items in our Solar System! If you can’t find the wine you’re after, give me a call.

I, of course, invite you into the store at your earliest convenience to meet & greet the gregarious staff, and, to simply take it easy and get lost in the store. GPS tracking devices are provided as you walk in—just in case.

And as would be expected in a wine metropolis, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays is the place to be where we can enjoy some wonderful tastes of wine at the rotund wine bar, where you can meet and greet with fellow wine lovers in the community—and , where I’ll be pouring intermittingly throughout the day.

For you loyal and avid readers—not to worry; as your responsible wine columnist, I shall continue to cover wine events and tastings, chefs and restaurant venues, and other fun wine happenings around town.  Clearly, we all wish to support our venerable local wine shops in the area—and we do!—we love the selections they provide us.  As beer, wine & spirits purchasers, we’re all over the map.  And it’s great to have a one-stop beverage shop (okay—metropolis) on hand to grab everything we need at once!

See you at Total Wine & More, (760) 346.2029.  If you can’t find it—just look up in the sky, you can’t miss it.

Next week, let’s talk about some tasty holiday cheer! Here’s to your health!