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How Sukie Honeycutt Became a Major Player in the Southwest Florida Wine Scene

The namesake of Sukie’s Wine Shop discusses her 35 years working with wine.



Abby Liga

(page 1 of 3)

 

When she was in her early 20s, Sukie Honeycutt was on the cover of Rolling Stone.

“The back cover,” she’s quick to say, humbly. “And they featured 16 albums.”

But still.

Today, she’s just as much of a rock star. As co-owner of Ridgway Bar & Grill and Tony’s Off Third as well as her eponymous wine store, Sukie’s Wine Shop, and Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar in The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, Honeycutt is arguably the preeminent voice in the Naples wine scene. Yet ask where her passion for wines began—An early cultivation? A refined palate from a young age?—and she just laughs.

“I didn’t know anything when I started,” Honeycutt admits. “I knew Lancers and Mateus, and I may have had Pouilly Fuissé a couple of times.”

Today, Honeycutt’s wine lists and shops feature some of the most sought-after bottles in production, and she’s on the must-visit list of global vintners. Ellie Sexton, a field manager for one of the major wine distributers in Southwest Florida who has worked with Honeycutt for the last 15 years, puts it this way:

“I was introducing Sukie to a new person in my world last week, and I said, ‘She’s very revered.’ By that I mean she’s had loyal customers for years, and they go to her for advice. There are collectors who ask her opinion on what to put in their wine cellars or what to serve at their dinners. They trust her. I’ve met people from other parts of the country as I travel, and when I mention Naples, Sukie’s name always comes up.”

Honeycutt is built slim and small, but she carries a large presence. When a customer stops in to buy wine from Tony’s Off Third, she springs to the register. She’s effusive, talking about wine nonstop—the mineral quality of the soil in which the grapes for a particular wine were grown, the way a label does or does not do justice to the wine inside, the rules of shipping bottles across state lines. There’s such passion and energy in her movements and voice that it’s easy to imagine her fronting a rock band. In fact, Honeycutt draws a connection between her dual roles as restaurateur and wine aficionado and her time on stage.

“I loved to sing,” she says. “I loved to perform. And that carries over into this industry. There’s a lot of performance.”

But even the most outgoing performers still need time off.

“I have three fabulous Chihuahuas,” she says, laughing. “They’re there when I get home, and they don’t require me to talk to them. At that point, I’m all talked out. They come and cuddle while I watch TV and sip a glass of wine.”

During the day, Honeycutt is dressed casually in shorts or jeans, a white button-up top and her trademark New Balance sneakers.

“I wear comfortable shoes,” she says.

For good reason. On an average day, Honeycutt clocks 5 to 6 miles on her circuit between her office above Ridgway, the restaurant and the wine shop next door.

“I wear two hats,” she explains. “I’m a restaurateur, and I’m a wine retailer. My time is weighted equally between those two hats.”

Related: The Story of The Repairs

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