To keep myself busy while caring for my injured-yet-again spouse, satisfied more by angry single malt Scotch than the doctor prescribed Vicodin, I called Tanya Green, the new owner of Wine 661 to find out what new things they are offering the SCV wine drinking public, myself copiously included.
Okay Tanya, I have been to this location before, when it was Wine Savor and now as Wine 661. Jeff Jacobson, chair of the SCV Wine Classic, suggested that I talk to you as he holds you in high regard as the new owner. Want to tell West Ranch Beacon readers what your wine story is?
My “wine story” is pretty simple…I love wine so I bought a wine bar, but my passion for wine began by going tasting. I love listening to the experts explain how the grapes were grown and fermented; why I’ll taste certain things because of the composition of the soil, that fruit grown on mountain tops develops thicker skins because of its proximity to the sun and therefore has more character than thin-skinned grapes.
I also have a strange fascination/respect for grapes that are difficult to grow, so those are the wines I’m most interested in. Everything about wine fascinates me from the farming of the grapes to the finished product, which makes owning a wine bar, like being a kid in a candy shop! I love it!
I understand you are serving beers as well as wine; what are some of your customer’s favorites from both?
To me, it was important to be able to carry something other than wine just in case a “beer guy” was dragged in by his wife. That’s why I spent months tasting beer from all over the world to put together, what I think, is the best beer list in town.
I carry rare, hard-to-get beers and artisan ales from Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Oregon, Santa Barbara and Maine. Each of my beers has won some sort of award from “Best Hefeweizen” to “Best Beer in the World.”
Schonramer Gold, for example, is a German Pilsner that won “Best Beer in the World” for 13 straight years and had to be removed from the contest to allow another beer the opportunity to win. I’m proud to carry a beer that good, and, I personally have grown to love beer as much, if not more, than wine.
My personal favorite is a cork-finished 750ml bottle of Belgian Farmhouse Ale called Saison Dupont. It’s gold and hoppy and has lots of personality. I pride myself on carrying beers that no one else carries and in most cases, beers that no one’s even heard of.
This may be off-putting to Coors Light lovers but I don’t mind. I want adventurous drinkers in here. Those that know what they like but can get excited to try something new. Nothing excites me more than transforming a Coors Light drinker into a beer snob!
What’s new now that you’ve taken over?
Wine 661 was a great spot long before I took it over. The ambience is comfortable and cozy and in my opinion, the best in the Valley, but I can’t take credit for that.
What I can take credit for, is a great appetizer list; including some amazing gourmet cheeses from all over the world (my fave is the five-year aged Gouda and the Spanish Blue cheese) as well as artisanal meats from near and far.
I’ve also changed the beer and wine lists and am proud of both. I promise to always rotate my beer and wine inventory so that my regulars never get bored and to carry both inexpensive as well as high-end beer and wines.
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Tell readers what’s on your menu and any specials:
The most popular items on my menu are my cheese and chocolate flights. For the “Cheese Flight,” I’ve paired three red wines with gourmet cheeses that compliment them. Cave-aged blue cheese is paired with a phenomenal Merlot. The semi-hard, Manchego from Spain is paired with a complex and delicious Tempranillo and finally a 5 year aged Gouda is paired with a California Zinfandel. The “Chocolate Flight” is the same idea; three reds paired with three different E.Guittard chocolates with different cocoa contents. I think of it as delicious and fun.
Your employee Kirsten is a delight. She poured us some very different water to go with our wine, what’s that about?
The water at Wine 661 has taken on a life of its own. I’ve always loved spa water infused with various fruits (the combinations are endless) so I take filtered tap water and infuse it with cucumber and lemon. It’s refreshing and different and people freak out over it. I serve it chilled in a frosted 750 ml wine bottle over ice. I recently had a customer visit a resort in Hawaii where similar water was served by the pool. When she tried theirs, she told the pool-side waitress that ‘while it was good, it wasn’t as good as the water at Wine 661.’
Tell us what your customers can expect as far as service?
I don’t think anyone can possibly care about their guests as much as the owner so I try to be here six days per week to ensure that everyone who walks through the door has a good experience. I like to have a good time and not take myself too seriously, and I think the service here reflects that. We’re pretty down to earth so people will always feel comfortable and at ease. We get to know our guests and over time we become like family with many of our regulars. I try to remember everyone’s name although I usually find it easier to remember their wine preference. The service here is personal and nowhere near stuffy. There is a certain sophistication that comes with serving and selling wine but this is a casual environment meant for a having a great time and good laugh!
Well, now that now that your palate is whetted by the wine, beer and water at Wine 661, in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Now…go!