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Think Circle K is just a pit stop for road trip snacks? The chain now has its own portfolio of wines

Circle K is now a winery, not just a convenience store

Two glasses of wine.
Valeria Boltneva/Pexels

Circle K, the chain of quick-stop convenience stores with more than 7,200 locations, is now a winery. The Texas-based company founded in 1951 is now producing its own lineup of wines, and to the minimart’s credit, the offerings are actually getting decent reviews so far.

Two lines of wine have officially dropped this summer: An entry-level wine called Sunshine Bliss and a higher-end line with wines priced from $10–$25. The Sunshine Bliss line starts at $8 a bottle and is currently available at around 3,000 U.S. stores, befitting of a franchise that prides itself on convenience.

All about Circle K’s wines

How is the wine? Top wine publications are zeroing in on the value elements, awarding some in the lineup the title of “best buys.” The Sunshine Bliss portfolio includes everything from pinot grigio to pink moscato. There are seven wines in all, including non-grape options like sweet strawberry and sweet peach.

Six offerings make up Circle K’s so-called Fine Wines lineup. Those include a red blend, pinot grigio, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc (a wine that earned a 92-point score from Tastings). The wines are primarily made from California fruit, but some wines are sourced from other sites, such as the sauvignon blanc made from New Zealand grapes.

Time will tell how the wine fares, but the move seems savvy. While beer continues to be the most popular drink in America, wine has been creeping up and is now a close second. Circle K is trying its hand at budget wines, hoping to cash in on the same crowd that might be sniffing around a convenience store for a bottle of Barefoot Cellars or a box of Franzia, the two most popular brands, according to Vinepair.

Circle K.
https://www.facebook.com/CircleKStores

Based on the sheer number of stores Circle K has at its disposal, there’s a good chance the wines will gain a serious following. Whether the wines are award-winning or not is perhaps not the point. What does seem surprising — or at least a sign of the times — is that a colossal convenience store chain is willing to go hard with its own private wine label. Perhaps it’s a gamble to think that wine drinkers are walking the aisles of Circle K. Perhaps it’s naïve to think otherwise now that wine has become so popular in the States.

Regardless, it feels very European (in a good way), as we’re once again taking the sting out of the wine intimidation factor. Sure, the best offering probably won’t hold a candle to a fine Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, but who cares? These are Tuesday evening wines or bottle pickups you didn’t know you wanted to make until you gassed up and wandered into the store for some Gatorade or a candy bar.

If these wines happen to be good, all the better. Let’s just hope Circle K can use their capital intelligently and foster sound farming and labor practices as the wines are put together.

All this goes to show that good wine doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out our best red wines under $20 and the best screw-cap wines. Thinking about elevating your average dinner? Try pairing takeout with wine for a heightened overall experience.

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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