Fine Wines Take Time

If food is love, then wine is happiness.

For centuries, friends and families have clinked glasses together to deliver wishes for good fortune and good cheer. Finch Fine Wines, built on a long and loving friendship, shares the warmth of a glass shared over a good meal or a great conversation. Wines can take you places around the world where grapes grow out of the verdant soil, sunlight and rain are captured in a bottle – and then transformed into special moments to be savored.

Years ago, a wine shop owner in a small storefront on the unfashionable side of Park Avenue, met a young lawyer from Alabama. Ed Finch had graduated from the University of Virginia and left for Wall Street with a diploma and a student’s list of cheap wines. Making friends with other young lawyers who had experience in wine, Ed and the friends set about finding the best wine shop in Manhattan. They found it in an unusual place.


Bernie Fradin, an old-fashioned wine merchant, did not judge young Ed for either his Southern accent or his ignorance about viticulture. Instead, the same man who sold wine to Buckingham Palace, gave equal attention to an aspiring wine lover.

“He must have thought this poor boy needed some help,”

Ed said. “Seriously, Bernie was one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever known.”

One day, Bernie fell from his ladder while stocking shelves just as Ed happened to be coming into the store and Ed caught him as he fell. Thus, a long rewarding friendship began that lasted for decades. All who knew him admired the proprietor who sold love in wine bottles.

After Ed had moved back to Birmingham, another friend stepped up when Bernie didn’t show up for work one morning. After discovering that Bernie was confronting serious health challenges, this doctor friend dispatched a helicopter to rush him to the hospital and a persuaded a specialist, who had been on vacation, to fly in by private jet to treat him. All thanks to shared moments of clinking glasses.

Ed often wondered how Bernie sold so many cases of wine from such a small shop. On a return visit to New York after establishing himself in Birmingham, Ed asked to see Bernie’s cellar. “Go on down,” said Bernie, as he admitted Ed to the inner sanctum – a wine cellar that extended not just under the small store, but under an entire city block! While marveling at the huge selection, Ed stumbled across an 1898 sherry, which Bernie sold to him at, basically, a gift price.

Sharing Bernie’s Legacy

When Birmingham’s most popular wine store at Western Mountain Brook closed, Ed felt there was something missing from the market. He thought back to the lessons learned in the tiny Manhattan storefront and decided to open Finch Fine Wines – a small shop like Bernie’s with a huge inventory. However, instead of a big cellar on site, the store would use its website to showcase a massive selection. 

Beyond the selections in store, including a variety of already chilled wines and champagnes, customers can peruse more than 3,000 other choices available in Finch Fine Wines’ online cellar. A touch screen computer and two iPads enable customers to order other wines while in the store, with most orders being ready for pickup the next business day.

Ed knows people are looking not just for good prices, good value and great service, but also convenience, he designed Finch Fine Wines to make picking up online orders easy.  Once a shopper comes into the store and registers as a customer, the Finch staff can load their orders directly into their vehicle. “They don’t have to come inside or take their children out of car seats,” Ed noted. 

“We understand how pressed for time people are these days,” Ed said, “and we’re here to make wine buying as easy and convenient for them as possible.”

Tasting and education programs at Finch Fine Wines will be offered in honor of Bernie Fradin, as the staff tries to create the kind of friendships and helpfulness that distinguished Bernie’s establishment. But for his mentoring of Ed Finch and so many others in his tiny wine mecca on Wall Street, this exciting new Birmingham enterprise might never have unfolded.

Chalk it all up to the clinking of glasses – among friends old and new.

  • Ed Finch - Founder

    Like so many students, Ed Finch began his wine journey at the grocer’s shelves. His palate soon progressed in sophistication with the help of a special wine merchant he discovered while practicing law in New York City. While searching for the best shop in NYC with knowledgeable friends, he found a small storefront run by the man who would become his decades-long wine mentor, Bernie Fradin. Bernie served, among others, Buckingham Palace and was widely acclaimed for his palate and knowledge.

    Returning home to practice law, and later to establish FHL Capital, Ed found a growing wine community. He had the good fortune to join several tasting groups which furthered his wine education and passion. As Ed says, nothing so humbles one as blind tastings with knowledgeable experts. “Sharing wine with friends and family is one of life’s great blessings.”

    The passion for wine led to a passion, shared by his lovely wife Mary, for travel. Together they have visited vineyards all over Europe, South America, and California.

    Saddened by the loss of the Western Wine Stores, Ed seeks to fill a void and expand the opportunities for Birmingham residents to purchase and enjoy great wine at Finch Fine Wines. Through the shop, both novice and connoisseur will be able to find the widest selection of wines available today in our area and learn why Thomas Jefferson said, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.”

  • Nate Dauphin - General Manager

    Nate’s addition to our staff as general manager is a welcome addition to Finch Fine Wines, and he brings a truly unique insight into wine with him.

    As a sommelier and past manager of Café Dupont, one of Birmingham’s finest restaurants, Nate’s experience has proven to be helpful in all aspects of our operation.

    His background and education in biomedical and environmental engineering hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his love for wine, high level wine education, and wine collecting.  We feel lucky to have Nate here at Finch Fine Wines, and we know you will find him to be a great resource for you with your wine purchases.

    To truly understand Nate’s passion for wine, here is a favorite quote from him, “Wine is humble in its origins, yet complex by nature. It is a living expression of both environmental and cultural influences that bring people closer together and create memories that last forever.”

  • David Foster - Sales Associate

    In the mid 1970’s, when the State of Alabama ended its monopoly on the sale of wine, David became more interested in tasting outside of the limited selection available. As a graduate student, working in a restaurant that had an extensive wine list afforded him the opportunity to explore a whole new wine world. The knowledge gained there opened the door to working in Birmingham’s first really fine wine shop, the Grapevine.

    David has vast wine tasting experience, including many occasions with other seasoned wine lovers, such as Ed Finch himself. Tasting excellent wines with knowledgeable companions has been a wonderful education that has opened his eyes and expanded his improved his palate.

    Finch Fine Wines allows David to share the knowledge he has gained while at the same time expanding his experience base with every new vintage. Although he is a retired educator, he is still a lifelong learner, and what better topic to keep learning about than the world of wine!