Bill Philips, owner of Mr. Bill's Wine Cellar on Brambleton Avenue. Emily Flora SWoCo
Bill Philips, also known to many as ‘Tallwino’, isn’t originally from Roanoke. He grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C. And his 35 years of experience in the wine industry has given him a wealth of knowledge about the wine he sells, drinks, and recommends to Roanoke.
Philips lived in Columbia, S.C., for about 5 years and worked as a distribution sales manager. But in an effort to get away from the heat of South Carolina, Bill moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1981, where he now resides in Salem.
Philips took his knowledge of wine and opened Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, on Brambleton Avenue on Sept. 11. But the work on the cellar began long before that. He knocked walls out and had the place completely remodeled. His friend, Todd Bandy, not only designed the layout of the cellar, but did a lot of artwork that is displayed around the business.
“We’re trying to do several things differently,” Philips said. “I carry many things you can find in big grocery stores, which many businesses would stay away from. And we try to give the shop a friendly feel.”
Philips said that not only can you find the same wines you can find in grocery stores, but he also carries higher end specialty wines with the same pricing structure, if not lower.
Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar has worked hard to carry the types of wine and beer that his customers want and he even offers tastings everyday.
“This was a chance for me to do something for myself, rather than working for someone else,” Philips said about opening Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar.
“The shop is fun and relaxed and we can sell our customers any kind of wine they like.”
Besides his career experience as a distributor, Philips has served as a lecturer on wine. He has experience in wine education as a professor at universities such as Virginia Tech, Radford University, and Roanoke College. He has also trained waitstaff. He also has experience in event and wedding planning.
“That’s one thing I enjoy most about this, is the wine education.”
So far, his business has been great, he said.
“I think every day I come in and I see new customers. I feel like I’ve met regulars who I consider friends. What I’ve prided myself on over the years is being able to talk to anyone on their wine level.”
Philips lives in Salem with his wife, Betty. He also has a daughter and a son, Mandy and Jeff.
Location: 2825-B Brambleton Avenue
Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Structured tastings every Friday and Saturday).