Kats Wine Cellar | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Kats Wine Cellar

Tasho Katsaboulas runs Kats Wine Cellar.

Tasho Katsaboulas runs Kats Wine Cellar. Photo by Brandi Herrera Pfrehm

Walking the impeccably arranged aisles of Kats Wine Cellar, one can't help but notice the descriptors: vibrant, energetic, balanced, structured, alive, elegant yet down-to-earth. The terms—meant to portray hallmark characteristics of wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon—could just as easily be used in an evaluation of owner Tasho Katsaboulas, 35. The eclectic third-generation Jackson businessman has not only successfully kept the family wine business alive, but has managed to carry it into the next generation of downtown commerce.

Behind the front counter, Katsaboulas' father affectionately looks out into the store from a black-and-white photograph with a vivacious and proud grin to match his son's. It's clear he passed on the same zest for life and passion for wine that have helped to make the business endure more than four decades.

When did Kats first open, and how did it arrive at this location?

My family's been in downtown Jackson business since before the Depression. My grandfather came over to Jackson from Greece in 1929 and had a hat shop on Farish Street. Kats was opened in 1966, so we were an inaugural wine shop for Mississippi. At that time, we were downtown next to the Mayflower Café on Capitol Street. About 1972, they moved it to where the Hallmark Cleaners is, and then we moved under Fenian's in the early '80s. We've been here (Jefferson and Fortification) ever since then.

How has your clientele changed since the business first opened?

The sophistication of wine customers has really increased in the last 15 years. We've seen the mass exodus from White Zinfandel sales. But it's so much more than that now; you've got people buying all kinds of wine, not only domestic, but imported. We've seen American winemakers take the consumer off the entry-level wines into the nicer artisan California wines, and then the interest has spread to the other grape-producing nations of the world: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa. In particular, Spain's on fire. It's having the kind of popularity that Australia enjoyed about 10 years ago. You see amazing values coming out of Spain.

Your business partner is your brother, Kanello. Tell me what it's been like to work with family and about your other employees.

We've got a lot of staff continuity. We've had our staff in place for over 10 years now. It's really cool to work with such a close group; they're just like family. (Working with my brother) is really the best business partnership that I've seen because the things that I like and want to do really don't interest him as much, and the things he likes to do don't interest me. It works out perfectly.

My dad and my grandfather shared a common love for downtown Jackson and people. That's the page from their playbook that we've taken: making it about relationships and people. The true success in our business will be measured in how our customers care for us, and if our employees are treated well.

Behind the front counter, Katsaboulas' father affectionately looks out into the store from a black-and-white photograph with a vivacious and proud grin to match his son's. It's clear he passed on the same zest for life and passion for wine that have helped to make the business endure more than four decades.

When did Kats first open, and how did it arrive at this location?
My family's been in downtown Jackson business since before the Depression. My grandfather came over to Jackson from Greece in 1929 and had a hat shop on Farish Street. Kats was opened in 1966, so we were an inaugural wine shop for Mississippi. At that time, we were downtown next to the Mayflower Café on Capitol Street. About 1972, they moved it to where the Hallmark Cleaners is, and then we moved under Fenian's in the early '80s. We've been here (Jefferson and Fortification) ever since then.

How has your clientele changed since the business first opened?
The sophistication of wine customers has really increased in the last 15 years. We've seen the mass exodus from White Zinfandel sales. But it's so much more than that now; you've got people buying all kinds of wine, not only domestic, but imported. We've seen American winemakers take the consumer off the entry-level wines into the nicer artisan California wines, and then the interest has spread to the other grape-producing nations of the world: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa. In particular, Spain's on fire. It's having the kind of popularity that Australia enjoyed about 10 years ago. You see amazing values coming out of Spain.

Your business partner is your brother, Kanello. Tell me what it's been like to work with family and about your other employees.
We've got a lot of staff continuity. We've had our staff in place for over 10 years now. It's really cool to work with such a close group; they're just like family. (Working with my brother) is really the best business partnership that I've seen because the things that I like and want to do really don't interest him as much, and the things he likes to do don't interest me. It works out perfectly.

My dad and my grandfather shared a common love for downtown Jackson and people. That's the page from their playbook that we've taken: making it about relationships and people. The true success in our business will be measured in how our customers care for us, and if our employees are treated well.

What's in a Name?
I C. Katsaboulas, Tasho and Kanello's father, lent his moniker to the family business. "Kats" was the nickname friends and family gave him, and it's stuck with the wine cellar since 1966.

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