SOUTH PORTLAND — Bicycles, beer, and wine aren’t typically combined in business – unless you’re Jen and Kevin Flock.
The Flocks are owners of Flock & Vine Bike & Beverage, a shop that opened last month on E Street, specializing in fine wines, craft beers, bike sales, and bike repairs.
“We’re kind of weird,” Jen Flock said proudly.
Jen has a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University, and spent 20 years in the food and wine industry. Kevin started racing bicycles at the age of 14, and has spent more than three decades as a bike mechanic.
They met at an art school in New Mexico, married, and moved to Virginia. Jen’s love for Maine began in 1988, but it wasn’t until 2006 that they took up permanent residence.
“You just find yourself coming back to Maine,” she said. “This time we’ve been here for nine years.”
Together, they dreamed up Flock & Vine, which started as a lark.
“For 10 years we joked about opening a space that would integrate both our passions.” Jen said.
Then one day, she said, the couple “just seized it.”
Originally, their shop opened near their home in Cape Elizabeth, and Crescent Beach, which served as a pleasant destination for customers.
Fortunately, the customer base they had in Cape Elizabeth has followed, and with the convenient path for foot traffic, their popularity is growing.
“I come here all the time,” one patron said, leaving the store after a carefully selected purchase of wine. “I attend their tastings, as well. Oh, and I’m a cyclist.”
Customers at 64 E St. will immediately notice two things: an artistic presentation of wine bottles, and bicycle tires and jerseys hanging from the ceiling.
The layout of the store – spacious yet homey – is representative of the couple’s attitude.
Kevin offers free “do-it-yourself” tutorials for anyone who needs knowledge on bicycles, whether it be changing a flat tire, or putting slicks on a mountain bike.
Jen is willing to offer her expansive knowledge as a sommelier to individuals who need advice on what wine goes with, say, “spicy sausage.” She also hosts free wine tastings twice each month.
“Tastings are great,” Jen said. “They allow people to be adventurous, and it’s fun; I love how food and wine bring people together.”
Jen’s passion for food and wine, and her husband’s enthusiasm for biking, is only topped by their love for community.
“Someone suggested I get an espresso machine in here, and I said ‘why not just go down the street to Cia?’” she said, referring to the coffee shop a couple blocks away. “Someone else suggested I sell cheese to go with the wine, but why not go to The Farm Stand?”
“I tell everyone that I get my food for the tastings from The Farm Stand,” Jen said of the locally produced spread she offers at her events. “We’re an up-and-coming community and we need to support each other as much as we can.”
As the weather warms, more opportunities for community members to get involved will become available.
This month, Kevin will lead weekly bike tours for folks who wish to congregate at the store and visit sweet spots in South Portland.
Soon, the Flocks will also provide beer tastings.
When asked about the safety of alcohol and biking together, Jen said, “This is about enjoying the company you’re with. None of this is done in excess.”
The Flocks believe in the relationship of food and fitness together, and when it comes to alcohol, moderation and responsibility.
“The more you talk to runners and cyclists,” she said, “the more you find out how much they like their food and wine.
“Owning your own business is exciting and terrifying at the same time,” Jen continued, looking around the store, “but, here we are.”
Jen Flock owns Flock & Vine on E Street in South Portland with her husband. The business combines her expertise in wine and food with his background as a bicycle mechanic.
Inside Flock & Vine in South Portland, where the recipe calls for wine, beer and bicycles, with a large helping of community interest.
Flock & Vine is at 64 E St., in South Portland.