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Posted on Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Cherry Republic wants to add wine tasting to downtown Ann Arbor store

By Lizzy Alfs

A year and a half after Cherry Republic opened a store in downtown Ann Arbor, hundreds of customers are still asking the same question: where’s the cherry wine?

The company — a Glen Arbor-based retail chain that sells cherry-themed items — has wine tasting programs at its Glen Arbor and Traverse City stores, where customers can sample 10 different cherry wines for free and purchase bottles.

“People who come up (north) in the summer have gotten used to us having wines in our store,” said Jason Homa, Cherry Republic’s Vice President of Sales.

“It’s the number one requested product from us in the Ann Arbor market from the things we haven’t offered.”

Cherry_Republic_Diana_Szarek_Keri_Hardy_Cherry Republic.jpg

Diana Szarek of Belleville purchases some cherry-themed items from store manager Keri Hardy during the first day of business at Cherry Republic in 2011.

Melanie Maxwell |

When the Ann Arbor store opened on the corner of Main and Liberty streets in May 2011, the company intended to incorporate wine tasting at some point. Homa said they applied for a liquor license last fall and have been waiting on approvals.

After the city of Ann Arbor's Liquor License Review Committee recommended approval for a request last week for the wine tasting room, the license will now go before city council and then Michigan’s Liquor Control Commission for final approval.

Homa said his hope is that the store can sell cherry wines in time for the holiday season shopping rush.

Cherry Republic’s business model centers on generosity — giving away thousands of dollars in samples at each store — and Homa said the wines are no different.

Wine only accounts for about 10 percent of the business’ total sales, he said, but it’s more about the experience.


Hot cherry salsa is one of the many cherry made items available at Cherry Republic in downtown Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

“The customer base (in Ann Arbor) would really like something like a tasting room from a Michigan winery,” he said. “I think, for people when they come to our stores, they want as much out of it as possible.

"(Wine tasting) really rounds us out.”

Homa said the wine tasting bar will be located at the rear of the Ann Arbor store, where there is some extra space. The store will also offer soda tasting for kids to make it a “family first” environment.

Since the company has found a tremendous amount of success in Ann Arbor, Homa said expanding or opening an additional store downtown isn’t out of the question.

“One of the challenges being where we’re at in Ann Arbor, is that the store is beautiful, but it’s small,” he said. “We may look to add another spot on Main Street or on Liberty at some point that would be a tasting room.”

He added: “The first holiday season (in Ann Arbor), it was our busiest storefront of all of our stores. We’ve been really well received down there.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Kathy Greene

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 5:26 a.m.

Cherry Republic is a great retailer and is a great addition to Ann Arbor. For those of us that have been customers of Cherry Republic it's nice to know that we can drive just 45 mins instead of 4.5 hrs to visit and purchase products. IT's even better that we will (hopefully) soon be able to taste and purchase wine as well. Yes there are many terrific wineries in Leelanau county as well as Grand Traverse county, however, it's great to be able to introduce Ann Arbor and the southern portion of Michigan as well as northern Ohio and Indiana to Cherry Republic.

audrey schwimmer

Thu, Nov 1, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

Great products, great people at Cherry Republic! Their Cherry wine would be a great addition to their AA store. PineyWoodsGuy ~ I'm sure that the fine staff at Cherry Republic are trained so that they would not serve a drunk person, homeless or not. As far as "aggressive panhandlers" surely you aren't referring to AA; Philly, Seattle, LA maybe but not AA.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

"Cherry Republic's business model centers on generosity — giving away thousands of dollars in samples at each store — and Homa said the wines are no different." Oops Mr. Homa! Wine Is Different! Wine tasting at a destination resort venue is different than wine tasting in the heart of an urban city, filled with aggressive panhandlers. Being a place of public accommodation it appears that Ch Rep will be handing out paper cups of "daily grog" to the boys! I have nothing against Ch Rep selling bottled wine, but bar tending it to walk-ins is not a good idea. Ch Rep is a good, friendly merchant but the city liquor license review board made a thoughtless decision.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

The only concern I have is that many people assume, after tasting Cherry Republic wine, that it represents all Michigan wines. Not the case at all! Not all Michigan wines are sweet or are made from cherries. In the Leelanau Peninsula alone ther are over 18 wineries (where the Glen Arbor store is located) and many make amazing red and white wines. We do a tours there a few times a year and have fallen in love with wineries such as 45 North, Longview, Brengman Bros., and Verterra. We actually go to CR more for the candy treats they provide with tastings than the wine.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

That place is awesome, I was in the one in Glenarbor taste the wine got several bottles. Filled up on all the samples, cherry Jam is great I can not wait. Was just down the other day and Got the sour cherries candy. Hurry, hurry. Please


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

At Kayleigh, you will find Cherry Wine at most wine store in A2 such as Morgan and York along with a great selection of grape based michigan wines as well.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

My husband and I got married in Glen Arbor and went wine tasting afterwards... the Cherry Republic area was amazing and we had so much fun!! I was apprehensive to wine made out of cherries, but luckily we were able to taste test and find our favorites... I can't drink anything else now!! I would love to be able to go to the Ann Arbor store and pick up a bottle instead of getting shipments from Glen Arbor! :)


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

This is such a cool little retailer. Love the addition to Ann Arbor