Brown Derby Wines/Springfield MO

Back in the '70’s-'80’s, the Brown Derby Wines store in Springfield MO I recall as being an exceptional wine source. You could buy wines there that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Swan Pinot & Zin, Ken Burnap… really hot wines. It was worth a journey down from KansasCity.
Now their wine offerings don’t seem particularly exotic… good, but just that.
Anybody else remember Brown Derby being so exceptional??

The Brown Derby international Wine Center is still a very good wine store. I mention that because there are tons of brown derby liquor stores around Springfield but only that one store, as far as I know, has a worthwhile wine selection. I was last there maybe two years ago, and I thought it had a good selection, particularly for Springfield, Missouri. It’s not going to compete with some of the shops on the coasts, but it’s still a good store.

I remember going down to Springfield with the family when I was a kid just to pick up wine for my dad. We’d also visit the Bass Pro flagship store and pick up some Andy’s frozen custard. I’ve been gifted a number of 70s/80s era Bordeaux from my dad with Brown Derby stickers (if not Gomer’s).

As for Missouri liquor stores, I’d consider them good “for Missouri” and excellent “for Springfield.” This is based on our overall dirth of higher-end choices, the not very nationally competitive pricing, and the very few stores with online/browsable inventory (you can browse their website and app). Perhaps it’s just that I can now find wines all over the country fairly easily, but it doesn’t feel like the store is quite what it used to be on a grander scale, worth a drive from KC on a somewhat regular basis. I keep almost buying wine from them to be shipped to KC but not doing it for various reasons. They have regular discounts, but it is normally a fixed smaller amount or cheap local delivery which wouldn’t apply to me. I don’t think they ever consider appealing to the “shipping” audience when they craft their discounts, and I don’t have the time to drive to Springfield.

Back in the 90’s, early 2000’s I used to occasionally get mail order items from them. Bottlings that would have been long been sold out in coastal markets, would still be at original list prices from them. At some point though I lost touch with them but I hope they are still around and prospering.

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I remember getting 2 magnums of the 2001 Thomas Pinot when that was impossible to source. They had a screaming sale one time of Oregon pinots and I picked up a few mixed cases of single vineyard Patty Green wines from the 90s for like $20 a bottle. Also picked up a bunch of 98 Laurent PC and GC burgs on another sale. I think the GCs were like $60.

It’s been a while since I bought anything from them.

I certainly remember the Brown Derby from those days. I made buying trips over there from Wichita in those (good old) days. No internet! Living in Wichita, somewhat of a wine wasteland at that time, I would head east to Springfield and west to Liquor Mart (Boulder) and Applejacks (Denver).

Brown Derby was definitely a “player” back then. They always had lots of Leroy around, seemed to get all the DRC they wanted, even got an allocation of Jayer! Lots of Burgundy producers, tons of Bordeaux and all the up and coming Cali wineries, Ports, German, Madeira, you name it. They used to put out a huge catalogue with pictures of Ron Junge posing with virtually every “name” wine producer on the planet.

You didn’t need to be put on a waiting list to buy high profile wines, just show up and get to know Ron a little. They always had something interesting open in the back to taste, or they would just open something on the spot.

I bought tons of wines from them over the years including DRC, and was even offered to purchase a bottle of Jayer Cros Parantoux (which I accepted.)
I moved out of the area in ‘97 and lost touch altogether. I would guess with the advent of the internet they would have a harder time maintaining their position in the industry.

I also spent a fair amount of time in Chicago back then, but that’s another story.

Life was good then: no money, but lots of wine!

Yup, Bruce…sounds like a great Grand Wine Circuit. I gather Harry Hoffman’s was no longer in business in Denver by then??
Who were the wine guys at LiquorMart when your were going there??
I didn’t bother to go out West to AppleJack. They had lots of wines, but most of it was commodity stuff. And they had a German/Nazi guy in charge of the wines who I found
insufferable arrogant. I always like Argonaut down on Colfax just East of the Capitol a better store. Much more intelligently selected.
Nowadays, the Boulder Wine Merchant is about the best wine shop in the Denver area.

I always liked Springfield & have lots of fond childhood memories from there. Had a bunch of relatives living there, so lots of family. None of whom drank wine.
But the Cornish Pasties my Aunt made always called for a good red. Alas, I was a tee-totaller then. As were they…good Methodist folk.
One Uncle (Jon Langsford), stood 6’11" tall, scared the holy beejesus out of me, was a famous jazz saxophonist in the JoeyHaymes and the Dorsey Bros bands back in the '30’s.
Good times…before BrownDerby came into my life.

Yup, they shipped under the cover of “Bass Pro Shop” plastered on the shipping boxes.
Lots of goodies to be had.

My only memory is a bunch of '90 Germans that a friend ordered for a group of us in the mid/late 90s. A disappointing number were oxidized within a few years of arrival. I remember some very brown Donnhoffs, in particular.

Ah. It wasn’t just me that got cooked wines from them.

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I used to receive their catalog back in the 80s, and it was certainly “drool-worthy”. They had a monster selection of older Leroy offerings (as the importer carried a huge selection of older vintages back then in California). They used to do a lot of “group” purchasing with Haskell’s in the Twin Cities as well.

I forget the details of the story but both were started by the same family. Either Dad started the outdoor shop and Son started selling wine out of the back room, or Dad started the liquor store and Son started selling fishing lures out of the back room. Either way, the rest is history.

When I first really got into wine in the early 2000s, that was one of the top retailers I ordered from, and I also remember enjoying digging through the catalogs they would mail out. I haven’t seen them pop up for anything in a long time – glad to hear they’re still doing well though.

Who did you think was the better Madeira house - them or Haskells?

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Dee Vine

They would have been a lot further ahead if they had just given me the case discount on ten bottles of wine and two bottles of Pear Brandy (like I would do in my shop).

They were my only source for wines in the early days as we didn’t have any real wine shops in Mobile. Ordered a lot of older stuff from their catalog. Bought Riedels from them as well. Was about my only source for wine until I started travelling regularly to Birmingham. Mobile finally started getting some wine shops, but no one came close to them in scope.
They also shipped to AL without any question whatsoever.

Still order from them about once or twice a year.

I received the catalog in the late 90’s-early 00’s. They always had great deals and my uncle and I did some buying. Haven’t kept up as offers became more ordinary and shipping seemed to become more difficult.