This Army veteran learned to love wine while stationed in Europe. Now she’s running her own tasting shop in Virginia Beach.

By Published On: September 6, 2022

Rekaya Gibson, The Virginian-Pilot (MCT)

Tamara Hoggard stands for a portrait in her business, Tam’res Wine and Gourmet Shop, in Virginia Beach, Virginia on Aug. 24, 2022. (Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot/TNS)

Tamara Hoggard stood behind a wooden bar this August afternoon, prepping for a party of 18 that would arrive at 4. Sunshine bounced off the blue-painted walls in her new shop, Tam’res Wine and Gourmet Shop, at the corner of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Newtown Road.

The large sign “Tastings” spread across a wall; a rhythm and blues song filled the air, matching the mood of the “Good vibes” neon light display for Instagram photos.

Her shop has been in the making for a long time.

Hoggard was first introduced to wine when the Army stationed her in Belgium in 2001. She noticed that Europeans drank it often and with almost every meal. She didn’t care for the taste of wine nor did she know anything about it.

“I felt out of place,” the veteran said, “and I didn’t like that feeling.”

That’s when she set out to learn more about wine.

“I never want to feel that way again.”

As her knowledge grew so did her admiration for the grapes. During her exploration she encountered people who didn’t drink wine. She discovered it was because they didn’t know how to. She started dreaming of being in the industry and her goal was to teach others how to consume wine and expand their palate so that they could appreciate it too.

Hoggard — a Virginia Beach native — spent 22 years in the military and retired in 2017. She returned to the area so that her son, 16-year-old D’Andre Williams, could grow up close to the family.

She also wanted to open a business in her city but near Norfolk to attract both audiences. D’Andre helped her come up with an idea and the wine shop’s name — a combination of their names.

Her initial plan was to become a winemaker. She put the idea on hold for now.

“I decided to start small,” she said, “crawl before I walk.”

Tam’res has been open since April. Most of the products are imported from countries such as as Italy, France and Germany. She stores them on seven bookshelves on one side of the room. Hoggard hopes to add Virginia wines at some point.

Wine and beer tastings are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The five selections rotate each week.

“I teach you how to assess the wine,” Hoggard said, who is certified by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in the United Kingdom.

Her customers tend to want sweet wines — such as the Reggae Margarita Wine Cocktail — so those are the bestsellers.

She feels as though the tastings are paying off because she sees customers discovering dry red and white wines that they like.

“They buy it and they come back and buy it again.”

Customers can also enjoy meat (regular and vegan sausage), cheese (hard and spreadable), crackers, chips and nuts (Virginia brand) while tasting wines. Sometimes the store will have individual charcuterie boxes available as well. Hoggard creates larger snack trays for private tasting events at the shop.

She plans to hire a full staff and serve a variety of foods. She will continue to focus her efforts on educating the public about wine and creating a relaxing environment where a suit and tie are not required.

“When you come in, I want you to feel like you’re amongst family.”

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If you go

The spot: Tam’res Wine and Gourmet Shop, 5650 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach.

Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon to 7 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

Wine tasting price: $10

Contact: tinyurl.com/tamreswine

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