AMESBURY — A global pandemic-plagued 2020 has dashed millions of people’s plans worldwide. But COVID-19 has also prompted a pair of local entrepreneurs to take a daring chance that has added natural wine to the downtown landscape.
Caitlin Frame and Laura Poladsky opened the doors to Sunnys Natural Wine Shop on Water Street in late October and were turning away customers while trying to lock up the store and go home Christmas Eve.
“It has been a bittersweet year that we are still trying to wrap our brains around,” Poladsky said. “But it has been totally amazing and exciting”
She said the city’s newest wine shop can trace its roots directly to the coronavirus pandemic.
Poladsky and Frame were living in Brooklyn, New York, at the beginning of the year. Frame was working in a restaurant while Poladsky worked in a furniture showroom in Soho.
The next thing they knew, the pandemic had hit and both of their jobs went with it.
Frame is a Newburyport native and came home to visit his family along with Poladsky in late spring. They took a trip through Amesbury.
“My mom used to own a small furniture consignment shop in Amesbury called Fancy Schmancy, and so I always enjoyed spending time here,” Frame said in a press release. “We stopped in at Fortune Bar, had a drink, and Laura and I spent the whole time talking about how much we loved the community.”
The pair also happened to spot a vacant storefront at 4 Water St. that seemed to be pitching itself to them. Frame and Poladsky soon rented the storefront and opened their business this fall.
Poladsky said natural wines are made with minimal intervention.
“It is really just one step further than using organic grapes,” Poladsky said. “There are no pesticides or anything that is hard on the Earth. The bottling process also includes no chemicals, flavors or sugars.”
The business and life partners had never opened their own businesses before, but Frame was involved in the opening of Ernesto’s on Broadway, as well as a few other award-winning New York restaurants, and they felt that now was the time to open their own shop.
“We weren’t sure if this was an appropriate place for a wine shop, especially a natural one,” Poladsky said. “The learning curve for natural wine has been so small and we have been really impressed and surprised by how many people come in asking for particular natural wines.
“They are excited that we are a natural wine shop and there are a number of people from bigger cities who have moved here,” she added. “I would say about 50% of the people who came in the first month that we were open were displaced from bigger cities this year.”
Poladsky, who is from Boulder, Colorado, said Amesbury has been a very supportive community for her and Frame.
“It is so bizarre to be mourning a life and a lifestyle and a city,” Poladsky said. “Yet, at the same time, we have been welcomed into a new town and have opened our own business. That is something we could never have done in New York. Never.”