Take a Stroll to Short Walk Wines

Stop in or stay a while at a new downtown wine shop with an affordable, curated collection.
by Catherine Currin | photography by Taylor McDonald

co-owner Cindy Sheats

If you’re moving too fast, you might miss it: Just past the bus station on Martin Street is the unassuming entrance to Short Walk Wines, a bottle shop and ten-seater bar. Formerly the home of Lumina Clothing Co. and Ramble Supply Co., owners Cindy and Lewis Sheats always loved the space, and opened it up as a wine shop in June of 2018. They wanted a place in downtown Raleigh that was convenient for those in walking distance to stop by for a glass, and carry anything from a bottle to a case of wine home with them. “We live here and felt like this was missing.” 

To be clear: They’re businesspeople at the core, and wine aficionados, not sommeliers (“We just knew we liked to drink it!”). It was through Lewis Sheats’ job as the executive director of the entrepreneurship clinic at N.C. State’s Poole College of Management that he met the integral third part of their team, manager Halsey Merritt. She came from local retailer Wine Authorities, and helped the couple develop a wine selection that is diverse in both price and taste. “I fell in love with it, I love teaching people about wine and helping them learn what they’re putting on their table,” says Merritt.

Inside, the atmosphere is inviting and unintimidating, a place to get a glass of wine after work or pick up a unique bottle on your way to a dinner party. Merritt says they intentionally carry wines that you might not find anywhere else in the area, ones that have a story behind them. The majority of the inventory rotates frequently to keep things fresh, but they have a few mainstays for consistency. “We try to keep things interesting, but we want people to find something they like every time they come back,” says Merritt.

To make any wine novice feel welcome, Short Walk has introduced monthly wine classes, covering a broad range of topics beginning with Introduction to Wine, followed by more specific and detailed classes. The shop also hosts complimentary wine tastings twice a week featuring wines from a particular region or that pair well with a certain food, and Merritt is always happy to make suggestions and offer a taste of whatever they’re pouring that day.

Beyond being a bottle shop, the team invites anyone to come and stay a while: Plug in and connect to Wi-Fi while sipping on wine, beer or cider, bring a friend for a Scrabble matchup or peruse an old edition of Wine Spectator. And if you’re feeling generous, Short Walk has recently added a display board for ‘random acts of wineness,’ a pay-it-forward-with-wine concept: Patrons can purchase a glass or bottle of wine in advance for specific scenarios, like the next teacher who walks in or someone having a bad day. Cindy Sheats says the idea came from a group of ladies who purchased a glass of wine for a young mother in the shop. “She was so overwhelmed by the small act of kindness, we thought, ‘that’s something simple we can do for others.’” Short Walk provides a friendly hideout in the midst of downtown, a refuge after a busy day with a really delicious wine selection.  

123 E. Martin St.; Monday-Thursday 12 p.m.—8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 12 p.m.—9 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.—6 p.m.; For information on classes and special events, visit shortwalkwines.com.