Kay Pfaltz, Basic's Wine Maven


When she was twenty, Kay took a wine course from the prestigious L’Acadamie du Vin in Paris. While she is fond of saying that, at that age, the course went over her head, it did begin for her a life-long love affair with France and with wine. Kay lived off and on in Paris for fourteen years, completing her doctorate while teaching for James Madison and Southern Methodist universities. For eight years, she taught an elementary wine tasting course to any willing and interested student in her regular courses.

Today she brings her love of wine to Basic Necessities located in the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia. The shop, which she founded in 1997, emphasizes wines from the south of France, specializing in a wide selection of excellent wines for under $20. Basic Necessities prides itself on “scrumptious little wines from $10 or $20, made often by individual growers who still make wine the old-fashioned way, organic and often unfiltered and unfined, allowing the wine to have more taste. We’re probably about 60-70% natural/organic/biodynamic, and while many of the wines are not certified organic, the vines and land is farmed naturally, often by families who’ve held the vineyards for generations, and why pollute the land that sustains you? We carry a lot of small growers farming sustainably, or in the French term, lutte raisonnée.

Ever Wednesday (full) and every other Tuesday (open) at 4 pm, Kay holds an informal wine tasting on the enclosed back porch of Basic Necessities. Locals and tourists alike gather around one of the five tables covered by Provençal tablecloths and learn the intricacies of wine. Call for a reservation, space is limited.

Basic Necessities also stocks a variety of imported cheeses which pair especially well with the chosen wines.