Lambrecht's Liquors owner Dan Lambrecht, left, and "cigar czar" Jeff Miller show off some of the St. Joseph retailer's selection of hand-rolled cigars. Photo by Bryan Clapper

Archived Story

Lambrecht’s: ‘Michigan wine is young’

Published 1:43pm Thursday, April 29, 2010

By BRYAN CLAPPER
bryan@offthewater.com

Behind an unassuming storefront on Niles Avenue in St. Joseph, Lambrecht’s Liquors has been serving up the finer things in life for more than 50 years.

Current owner Dan Lambrecht’s parents opened the original store just down the block in 1956, before moving to the current location in the 1970s and expanding it in 1976.

Lambrecht was an attorney in St. Joseph before buying the business from his mother in 2005.

“I’ve been working here on and off since I was 12 years old,” Lambrecht said. “I used to come up here to sweep and put away bottles (even before that).”

Lambrecht’s started as a package liquor store, but over the years has added more small departments, from home beer and wine-making (which they added in the 1970s) to one of the area’s largest selections of imported, hand-rolled cigars in recent decades.

Their selection of nearly 200 different wines from at least 13 local wineries started early on.

“That was always one of my dad’s priorities, to support the local industry,” Lambrecht said. “We were the first retailer to sell Tabor Hill wines, right after they started it in the ’60s.”

Now, most of the store’s eastern wall is dominated by row after row of Michigan wines, and the cooler on the opposite side has a growing selection of beers brewed in the state.

And Lambrecht only sees the selection and quality of Michigan wines improving.

“Michigan wine is young in comparison. They’ve got a ways to go, but they’re going in the right direction,” Lambrecht said. “I think if the local wineries get a marketing scheme together kind of like the northern wineries do and direct it toward Chicago, they’d reap some nice benefits off that.”

In addition to local wine and beer, Lambrecht’s carries a global selection of both, and high-end spirits from around the world.

“If we don’t have it, we’ll try to get it for you,” Lambrecht said.

“Being here with Whirlpool and Leco, you get people from all over the world, so that helps influence the selection,” he said.

In recent years, Lambrecht’s has also increased its tobacco selection, bringing in as many as 30 different kinds of hand-rolled cigars and adding fine pipes and pipe tobacco.

“We carry a pretty good variety in the store,” Lambrecht’s “cigar czar,” Jeff Miller, said. “(Cigars) are not as wildly popular as they were in the ’90s, but particularly in nice weather when people are on the boat or on the golf course or on the deck, they appreciate a good cigar.”

Lambrecht’s stocks a large selection of hand-rolled cigars from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the Honduras, with prices ranging from $2 to $25. They also carry several different brands of pipe tobacco, all-wood pipes, and cigar and pipe accessories.

Lambrecht’s Liquors is located at 2926 Niles Ave. in St. Joseph. Its website is www.lambrechtsliquors.com.

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