A new meaning to new world wine
HELL'S KITCHEN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Wine can be inaccessible for many reasons including price, allergens and age restrictions. But one former sommelier from Hell's Kitchen is bringing wine to a whole new world.
Through his paralysis and the pandemic, he created an accessible wine store.
When it comes to wine, hardly anything is more vital than the roots of the grapevine itself. As a sommelier, Yannick Benjamin knows that better than most. His own roots in wine run deep.
Benjamin's mother is from Bordeaux, a region considered to be a wine capital of the world in France known for its hillsides and vineyards. Benjamin's father worked in another wine capital, the restaurant industry.
"I remember visiting a winery at the age of 13 in Bordeaux, and I remember that distinctive smell and the beauty of it all," Benjamin said.
He turned his love of wine into a career.
But at the age of 25, he was paralyzed after a car accident, and he was forced to reassess his career path.
""How am I going to work around the restaurant as a sommelier, as a waiter, as a manager? Because it's physically demanding," Benjamin said.
But his paralysis did not slow him down.
"I always say the obstacle is the way and through tragedy you can, it really forces you to think outside the box," he said.
During the pandemic, Benjamin spotted an empty storefront in Hell's Kitchen.
That storefront was not only in the neighborhood he grew up in, but also in the building he currently lives in.
Benjamin opened Beaupierre Wine & Spirits just before the holidays. It features displays at eyelevel for people who use wheelchairs and has business cards in brail.
The best part about an accessible store, is it makes it easier for everyone.
"I can tell you people who have strollers are very very happy with us right. All you have to do is press the button and the door opens and all kind of that stuff," Benjamin said.