To your health

Good times and good wines at new Vino 100

RAISE A GLASS <br>Managing partner Debby Stewart pours some bubbly for Carol Henson at Vino 100’s ribbon-cutting party.

Managing partner Debby Stewart pours some bubbly for Carol Henson at Vino 100’s ribbon-cutting party.

Photo By Tom Angel

Vinsanity! Vino 100 Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun., 12-5 p.m. Call 898-VINO to special order wines for your next party.

My friends and I really didn’t know what to expect when we entered the cellar-cool confines of the new Vino 100 wine shop, located in the Park Plaza Shopping Center on Mangrove. We thought we’d purchase a few bottles of wine and go on our merry way.

Immediately upon entering the warmly decorated space, one of the store’s several partners amiably greeted us, and a robust conversation ensued about the arrangement of the store, which allows wine shoppers to peruse wines according to “flavor” and “body.”

The walls are lined with racks filled with wine bottles—100 different varieties from all parts of the world—and the store’s personnel guided us to those best suited to each person’s individual taste. They even had a reference book available so we could read up on specific regions or grapes. And, best of all, each beautifully labeled bottle comes at a price of $25 or less.

Managing partner Debby Stewart emphasized her crew’s intent to make the store “friendly and fun.” When we learned the store includes a daily wine-tasting (Mon.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.; Sat., noon-7 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.) we knew we had to get in on the fun part.

For $5 apiece, we had a light-hearted time trying the five wine selections for that day. After a tasting, the initial $5 investment can be applied toward the purchase of one of the five wines, and we each applied ours toward the 2004 Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

Groups and parties can book special wine-tastings, and tasters can sit at a table for their one-ounce pours or stand at the well-appointed wine bar.

Stewart, who until fairly recently worked for many years as CFO for local Norfield Industries, shared that wine’s always been a passion for her. After extensive research through what she described as the wonderful services of the local Small Business Administration (SBA), she and her four partners—who have known one another for more than 25 years—decided a wine store would be a good fit for Chico.

Opened June 23, Vino 100 has enjoyed a brisk flow of shoppers, some of whom are just curious, and some who have a definite aim to “expand their palate.” An official ribbon-cutting took place Aug. 11.

“What really attracted me to opening this type of wine store is that it’s designed to be non-snobby,” Stewart explained. “I couldn’t do it if I had to pretend to be a wine snob. I’d be cracking up!”

Sometimes it’s intimidating going into different wineries and tasting rooms, she said, because people don’t know the right questions to ask. Vino 100 personnel provide an “educational experience” in which wine-lovers can learn more about the language of wine, and the store’s database allows customers to keep track of wines they’ve discovered they like.

A rich array of quality gift items, such as novelty corks, elegant openers, jewelry, cheese boards, wine charms, baskets, decanters, glassware and more allow shoppers to leave with not only the glow of a fun time, but a whole shopping bag of wine-related gifts and goodies. “I want it to be a touchy-feely store, where you feel welcome to try things,” Stewart said.