A new cheese and wine bar, Vine and Wheel, is opening downtown at the beginning of April. And you could say the latest member of the Altitude Hospitality collection grew out the differing tastes for wine between owner Mitch Yellen and his wife, Winnie. “For 37 years of marriage, my wife and I have never been able share a bottle of wine,” the restaurateur says.
It’s not that they haven’t tried. They just have different tastes. “She’s very content going in anywhere and getting the house pinot grigio or whatever,” he says. “And I’m interested in a Bordeaux or Champagne or a bold cabernet, so [sharing] just doesn’t happen.”
The couple shouldn’t have any trouble finding their vintages of choice at Vine and Wheel. From the featured charcuterie boards and small plates to the wine flights and tastings, sharing is central to this European stye eatery and market housed under the same roof as Till and Garden of the Gods Market & Cafe. “It’s sort of like this friendly home where people can gather together and have this amazing experience through sophisticated food and drink and that curated environment,” says General Manager Elizabeth Mudge. “From the moment you enter to the moment you leave, you have this experience, and we want people to linger.”
And there will be no shortage of wine to welcome you in. “We’ll have 180 options by the bottle and a wine wall featuring 40 wines in our Coravin system available by the glass,” Mudge says.
That Coravin technology allows wine to be served for up to a month without compromise because the cork is not removed from the bottle. The system allows the plates and pours eatery to provide a wide variety of options for sampling and wine flights. “If you want to sample a 2-ounce pour of this premium wine that is $400 a bottle but you don’t think you’re ready to invest in that, it allows you to do that,” Mudge says.
Trystan Brown has recently relocated from Australia as the newly hired Level 2 Certified Sommelier. He will serve as the in-house educator and guide through tastings, flights and pairings.
Executive Chef Hunter Huffman and Chef Brian Meiler will oversee the food from the joint kitchen with Till and Garden of the Gods. Alongside the bounty of artisan meats and cheeses, the menu will include oysters, shoestring fries covered in duck fat, short rib toast, lamb meatball, pan-seared Idaho trout, tuna tartare, wild mushroom tagliatelle, filet mignon and more.
For those not partial to wine, a short menu of high-end bourbons, Scotches and craft cocktails will focus on quality over quantity. “We want to do more of a traditional cocktail list and just make sure they’re really well done,” Mudge says. Watch for a vodka martini, Aperol spritz, sazerac and aviation. Bartender Jesse Parabjit will also rotate several seasonal cocktails to highlight creative flavor profiles. Coming next fall, cocktail aficionados can head downstairs to Blind Lark, a speakeasy that will complete Yellen’s plans for his 616 S. Tejon building.
Vine and Wheel will have its own separate space on the west side of the building, behind Till and Garden of the Gods Market & Cafe. The main entrance will be from the outside through Vine and Wheel’s patio, but you can also enter through Till and Garden of the Gods. Either way, you’ll pass through the European style market where you can pick up your favorite Old and New World cheeses, charcuterie boards and kits, local honey and other products on your way out.
Ambiance will be an important part of the experience, and Mudge describes the vibe as sophisticated, moody, intimate and comfortable. Oversized sectional sofas will be the centerpiece of seating, mixed with coffee tables and some high-top tables. A chic fireplace adds to warmth.
“It sets the tone for what you’re going to experience because you’ve got soft seating everywhere, and you’ve got the bar in the back. You’ve got this really a beautiful lighting, these pretty globe lights, sprinkled around everywhere, and that just sort of sets the mood,” Mudge says. “We hope that it sort of allows people to exhale and feel like, I want to get comfortable in this space. There’s an element of sophistication, yet familiarity. You immediately want to sit on the sofas and feel like, OK, what’s coming next?”
Discovery and community will follow if all goes according to plan. “It’s a place you come with friends, sit on couches around a fireplace, maybe before or after a show or before or after a game at the soccer stadium or hockey stadium. It will just be where people want to come and grab a glass of wine and hang out,” Yellen says. “The total experience of being able to learn about what they’re eating and realizing that the pairing of a wine and cheese is something that they have never encountered before — I think it will leave them with an experience they’ll remember and want to repeat over and over.”
Vine and Wheel Opening April 6
Watch for an opening April 6. Stay up to date at vineandwheel.com.
Mitch Yellen and Altitude Hospitality Group are on a roll with more concepts in the works, including these upcoming targeted openings:
Trainwreck, coming late spring 2022
The eating and entertainments venue featuring volleyball courts and games moves in near Weidner Field.
Lucca, coming late summer 2022
An Italian concept is on its way to 104 S. Tejon, next to Rutledge’s.
Sprig, coming late 2022
The one-time north-side fast-casual eatery featuring fresh bowls, smoothies and vegan eats gets a restart in a to-be-determined location.
Blind Lark, coming late 2022
The downstairs speakeasy rounds out the fourth concept in the shared building with Till, Garden of the Gods Cafe & Market and Vine and Wheel.