I love neighborhood wine bars! Of course, the other half of B & B would say that I just love wine anywhere. That being said,, a wine bar becomes a neighborhood wine bar and one of my favorites because the staff treats you like family each time you visit. Of course, they need to have good food, wine and atmosphere. Since I split my time between the south suburbs of Denver, Colorado and Austin Texas, I have favorites in both cities.
Indulge Wine Bar – 1601 Mayberry Drive, Highlands Ranch, CO
This is truly a neighborhood wine bar. Most of the patrons live within the surrounding area and are thrilled to not to leave suburbia for good food and wine. Owners Peter Fatianow and Delinda Romero do a fantastic job keeping a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Peter and Delinda often are on hand to greet new customers as well as visit with long time fans. They help to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere which translates into most of the people at the bar talking to each other. We always look forward to meeting new people and reconnecting with people we have met in our many visits to Indulge. John Benson, the general manager and wine director, is on hand to help with your wine selections and I think he has one of the best palates I have encountered in my wine journey. I always enjoy tasting wines with John because I learn so much from him. Delinda put together our daughter’s graduation thank you dinner for out of town guests and did a great job. Our family and friends from Texas and Maine fell in love with Indulge and where treated like visiting royalty (I think some of them let it go to their heads for the weekend). The atmosphere, the delicious food, happy hour and the serene patio with a stunning Rocky Mountain view makes this one of my favorite wine bars and, in my opinion, a must try.
Cru Wine Bar – The Vistas at Park Meadows Mall, Lone Tree, CO
Yes, Cru is an upscale chain I think if you would give the location near you a try, you will find that it can become a favorite neighborhood wine bar. We have also visited the downtown Denver Cru as well as the Cru in downtown Austin and had positive experiences. We frequent Cru – Park Meadows in The Vistas at Park Meadows Mall. Once again the place is filled with friendly and knowledgeable staff, like Michelle and Ryan There is some chatting among bar customers but not as much as Indulge because it has more of a date night atmosphere. The big, bald smiling man that greets you is Brian Thompson, the manager, who started at Cru as our favorite “guy behind the bar”; he is great to talk with and knows his wines. One thing we love about Cru is that they offer an extensive, frequently changing and varied selection of wine by the glass, all severed at the perfect temperature. Girlfriends; room temperature does not mean the room temperature in Denver and definitely not Austin. It means in the cellar in our castle across the pond, oops; I’m Asian so I never had one of those.
Cru does amazing wine dinners at reasonable prices and I would strongly suggest you try one. They also have special events like Big Bottle Night and Girl’s Night Out – Champagne Tastings. I believe the Cru locations, especially mine, have definitely overcome the chain image to become one of my favorite neighborhood wine bars.
The Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen – 6317 Bee Caves Road Austin, Texas
I am not sure I can be totally objective on this favorite of mine and I will tell you why. In our early 30’s, Reed Clemons, the owner of The Grove, opened Mezzuluna in downtown Austin, which was the first upscale restaurant to have a lively wine bar happy hour scene. The bartender, Ben Baroden, who watched my now 21 year old son, and a Viticulture and Enology major at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, crawl on the bar, has moved with Reed to The Grove. Conch no longer crawls (at least that we know of) on the bar. He now discusses wines with Bennie. Behind the bar, are Tyson, super knowledgeable about his food and wine and a bit sassy and Kerry who is always smiling and there to care good care of you. Reed has realized that all of us have grown up and move to the suburbs. His menu is family oriented with all the best recipes from all his previous restaurant endeavors along with great wines for Mom and Dad. Another benefit is that all of The Grove’s wines are available for retail and can be taken home to enjoy. The enormous decks with “Big Ass” fans (yes we live in Texas and that is a brand of fan) and great water feature that muffles the road noise are fantastic. If you don’t care to fight the crowd at UT home games, the deck’s big screens are tuned in so you have a 50 yard line seat with someone bringing you great wines. I say that my favorite wine bars treat you like family but The Grove really is family.
My closing advice is, find a wine bar in your neighborhood, hoist yourself up onto a bar stool and make it your own. Happy sipping.