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Fine Wine, Community, and Spirits

Fine Wine, Community, and Spirits

  • Photo by Anthony Jinson
  • This story originally appeared in the December 2023 food and drink issue of COMO Magazine.
Top Ten’s ‘Top Ten’

Becoming a true wine connoisseur takes time. It requires years of experience and a good pallet, and Paul Vernon certainly has both of those. As the sole proprietor of Top Ten Wines in downtown Columbia, Vernon knows wine — and he knows the business, demonstrated by Top Ten Wines going strong for twenty-eight years now.  

How it all started  

Vernon got his start in the wine business in 1989 while attending college in Florida, taking a job at the closest business to the campus in Winter Park. In 1995, he moved back to Columbia and opened his wine retail location downtown. At the time, his mother owned Blue Stem Crafts downtown, so his family was already an integral part of Columbia. Continuing to grow and planting even deeper roots, he moved Top Ten Wines into its current location on Ninth Street in 2006, and ten years later added a full bar.  

What can you find at Top Ten Wines?  

Vernon offers wines from all over the world, including vintage years and some limited-release wines. Included in the full bar are more than 150 varieties of whisky, some of which are rare, too, as well as beer. He also offers limited food such as cheese boards, smoked tomato and feta, and some other snack foods.  

The tomatoes are from his farm in Rocheport, and he partners with Les Bourgeois Vineyards to produce two varieties of rosé from vineyards on his farm. While the retail side of the business is his favorite, Vernon realized that the community wanted more.  

“Wine is meant to be shared in a community setting with friends and family,” he says. Vernon encourages his four bartenders to give their own recommendations and not rely on his tastes. 

“They each treat the business like they are welcoming the community into their own living rooms,” he adds.  

That atmosphere aims to be warm and inviting, with knowledgeable and friendly people at the helm. The sheer number of wine bottles to choose from for retail purchase can be awe-inspiring, too. Vernon says the clientele are as diverse in age as they are in backgrounds, interests, and cultures. 

“We are very unique to the state of Missouri, not only to Columbia,” he says, pointing out the buying power and reputation he has in the industry, and his access to a large variety of exclusive wines from around the world. 

New holiday favorites?  

Of course, all of Columbia wants to know what the pick is for wine this holiday season. 

“Pick something suited well to your holiday meals,” Vernon says. “You want to pick a variety of wines to suit your guests that complement the fat and salt of a traditional Thanksgiving meal such as turkey, ham, stuffing, and gravy.” 

Top Ten’s ‘Top Ten’

Vernon offers 10 choices, in no particular order: 

  • 2021 Domaine J Boulon, Beaujolais Blanc, France  
  • 2020 Domaine J Boulon, Moulin à Vent, France  
  • NV Kraemer, “Brut,” Blanc de Blanc, France  
  • Mt. Nebo Vineyards, Hummingbird Nest Rosé, Rocheport  
  • Mt. Nebo Vineyards, Albertos Run Rosé, Rocheport  
  • 2021 Basa, Rueda, Spain  
  • NV, Bellussi, ProseccoSuperiore D.O.C.G., Valdobbiadene, Italy  
  • 2016 Château de la Pierre Levée, Castillon Côte de Bordeaux, France  
  • 2021 Montesco, “Agua De Roca” Sauvignon Blanc, Valle de Uno, Argentina  
  • NV Arlaux, “Grande Cuvée”, Brut, Premier Cru, Champagne, France  
  • 2015 Domaine Blain, Côte de Brouilly, France  

Step into Top Ten Wines and chat with Vernon or one of his team members to make your selections for holiday gatherings with family and friends. 

Top Ten Wines
111 S. Ninth St., Ste. 116
Columbia, MO 65201

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