It’s never the wrong time to drink wine, said Richard Garcia.
“We have a wine for every time of the day,” said Garcia, who owns and operates Big Mood Natural Wines with his friends, Jamie and Liz Zoeller. “Someone came in the other day asking about breakfast wines, and we absolutely have several on the shelf that would be delicious breakfast wines.”
With backgrounds in wine programs and restaurant management, Garcia and Jamie Zoeller had discussed the possibility of opening their own wine shop. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the two men lost their restaurant jobs, they thought, “What better time than now?”
Click here to check out Big Mood’s natural wine, spirits and coffee selection.
They, along with Zoeller’s wife, started planning Big Moods in March and launched their LLC by April. The trio opened their shop doors to the public in August in the Crossroads Arts District.
“We definitely did not, and have not, had a grand opening,” Zoeller explained. “It just seems irresponsible right now, so we’re taking it day-by-day to figure things out.”
A majority of Big Mood’s customers come via word-of-mouth or Instagram, Garcia said, noting they’ve been fortunate to have avoided spending money advertising.
“We have this beautiful shelf that people really like to take photos of and put on Instagram,” Zoeller added. “Their friends see that, and then we have people come in saying they saw it and wanted to check us out.”
Wanting to be as safe as possible, some aspects of the business are on hold until after the pandemic, Garcia said. In the future, they see a wine-by-the-glass wine bar and natural wine-focused classes.
Click here to explore Big Mood Natural Wines’ Instagram.
The term “natural wine” does not have any official definition. For Big Mood Natural Wines, they inspect farming practices and ingredients before agreeing to carry a product, Garcia noted.
“Our products are farmer-focused products,” he explained. “They’re all small farms — usually family-owned or individually-owned operations — that are farmed organically, biodynamically and sustainably. These farms do not use chemicals in their fields, as well as do not put additives in their wines.”
“Farm-to-table” is a phrase used to describe the social movement of purchasing and consuming food from local farmers. It is about being aware of where one’s food is coming from, Zoeller explained.
“Why stop at food?” Zoeller questioned. “The liquids that we drink are just as important, so we shouldn’t halfway.”
Along with health, the global climate change crisis motivates Garcia to share natural wines with the Kansas City community, he said.
“Large conventional farming operations contribute to the pollution of groundwater and use neonictinoids, pesticides and herbicides — which kill off the bee and pollinator population,” Garcia said. “We want to make sure what we sell [at Big Moods] is inline with our beliefs and how we want to present ourselves to the community.”
The same standard of clean, organic farming is held for Big Mood’s other products, like their coffee and agave spirits, the owners said.
Learn what you like
Owning a wine shop means tasting and testing regularly, the trio said.
“Saturdays are all-day happy hours,” Zoeller noted, adding that his current store favorite is the Teutonic Candied Mushroom white wine.
“This is the umami tsuami of wine,” he continued. “It contains Riesling grapes from Oregon that were affected by botryis — making the flavor much more intense.
When snacking on salmon dishes or charcuterie, Garcia said his go-to is the Calcarius Soul Glou.
“It is biodynamically farmed in Southern Italy — in Puglia — and is a women-owned winery,” Gracia said. “It tastes like tamarind and hibiscus flowers, which I really like.”
It is anything sparkling, orange, rosé or light red for Liz, but overall, Deuz Anes Lima d’Anes takes the cake.
“When it comes to classic wines, I generally know what I like and what I don’t like,” Liz said. “With natural wine, the traditional rules are out the window, and every bottle is a fun, new experience. I’m not ashamed to say I really enjoy the quirky, creative labels too.”