After more than a year of rehab and construction behind red-painted plywood panels, Vinea—Latin for City of Wine—opened last Tuesday, in the nick of time for spirited holiday celebrations. Though the store was ready for nearly a month, obtaining necessary permits pushed back the opening several times. The first shipments of product began arriving the weekend before Thanksgiving, much to the delight of neighborhood residents and customers of the wine store’s commercial neighbors—Mafiaoza’s on 12th Avenue South and Corrieri’s Formaggeria on Caruthers. Vinea is a partnership between Brett Corrieri, owner of Corrieri’s, and Kristin Maharrey, a former pharmaceutical sales rep.
The rest of the inventory—which will be 80 percent wines—was stocked in a marathon, all-night session on Monday. According to general manager Mark Johnson, the first customer came in one hour after the opening and walked out with a case of assorted wines suitable for pairing with Thanksgiving foods.
A 14-unit cooler along the northern wall will hold the majority of white wines, as well as a selection of high-alcohol beers. Reds will be displayed by region in shelving around the floor, with “cellar quality” wines in a small, temperature-controlled cave-like room in the rear. One unit of wall shelving will be devoted to half-bottles, another to employee picks and another to ports and dessert wines. A small cooler at the front of the store will keep single servings of champagne and sparkling wines such as the popular pink cans of Sofia Blanc de Blancs. One of the best sellers so far has been a pinot noir with celebrity connections, Faux Frog 2004 from Todd Williams, a.k.a. The Toadster, a.k.a. Robin Williams’ brother. Equivalent to three bottles, the box of wine sells for $24.99.
Vinea has developed its own Dewey decimal system to locate particular wines by a click of the computer key. There is also a wine matchmaking system that rivals eHarmony. “We can create a file for every customer that will track their purchase history, so if they forget the name of the wine they bought last week and loved, we can look it up. We will carry up-to-date wine lists from restaurants in town so they can come in and buy a bottle of something they had at Midtown or Tayst last week. That will be part of their profile, in which they will answer some basic questions about what they like in a wine,” Johnson explains. “Every wine in our store will have descriptors based on five things. If a customer says that she likes green apple, we can match that to wines in the store in her price range. The only thing we won’t have in finding your perfect match is Dr. Phil.”
Vinea will host wine tastings at Corrieri’s Formaggeria on Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5 p.m.; the first will be Dec. 9 and will feature Italian wines and olive oils. Sign up in the store to receive weekly emails with information and event schedules. Vinea is open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 2410 12th Ave. S., 269-6880, vineawine.com .
While you fill your basket for holiday feasting between now and the end of the year, Wild Oats asks that you participate in the Food for All campaign to raise funds for local food banks and national anti-hunger organizations. The natural foods grocery store in Green Hills offers several ways to get that warm-all-over feeling. At the checkout, customers can pluck a $1, $3 or $5 donation coupon, which will be added to their bill, then passed along to Good Food for Good People, a nonprofit founded in 2003 to confront hunger in Nashville through projects such as an inner-city community farm, free produce distribution and a summer youth institute on the food system. Another option is the Grab ’n’ Give Bag Hunger program, which displays grocery bags packed with nonperishable staples such as soup, canned vegetables, beans, rice and cereal. A shopper simply grabs a bag, pays for it along with his own grocery items, then drops it in the collection area at the front of the store. Food contributions will benefit Nashville’s Table, Meals on Wheels and Good Food for Good People. Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, 3909 Hillsboro Pike
A legendary landmark in Nashville’s meat-and-three history has a brand new tenant. Aubrey Bean, the loquacious owner of Judge Bean’s Bar-B-Que, has taken over the tiny building at the corner of Chestnut and Humphrey, in the shadow of Greer Stadium, that for decades was the home of Hap Townes. Townes, who officially retired in 1985, was honored this summer by the Southern Foodways Alliance with the Guardian of the Tradition award. The vacant restaurant caught Bean’s eye about 18 months ago, when he was seeking a new location for Judge Bean’s. (He ultimately relocated the original store from Wedgewood Avenue to the former Café 123 spot in The Gulch.)
The new venture, Judge Bean’s Rio Grande Cantina, will serve Texas barbecue and Tex-Mex specialties. Beer will be available on tap and in bottles, and margarita machines will dispense several flavors of the adult Icee. Bean is hoping he can cram about 40 seats inside and will build a deck in time for the Sounds’ 2007 season. He plans to open in January.