Sipping Success 9

Liberty Township Woman Turns Love of Wine Into Thriving Business

Every glass of wine tells a story. In each sip is contained a history, a geology, a region. Each bottle tells its own tale. At Village Wines of Glendale, owner and Liberty Township resident Kate Eberlein brings these stories to life. Eberlein’s story of how she came to love wine and own the shop at 23 Village Square—a building that dates back to the 1880s and has plenty of tales of its own—is as rich and flavorful as a glass of cabernet.

New love at a wedding

Eberlein’s love affair with wine begins at a wedding she attended in the early 1990s. The nuptials took place in scenic Napa Valley. Eberlein and her husband Jeff became enamored of Napa’s fertile rolling hills, the process of winemaking, and the science of flavors. By the time the wedding ended, Eberlein was committed to bringing her new hobby home with her.

“We held tastings in our home. They weren’t anything formal, just something fun to do with our friends. Before I knew it, I was learning about wine all the time. I couldn’t get enough of it. We started pairing wines with food and getting into the science of flavors,” Eberlein says.

To keep her collection stocked during the early days of her dalliance with wine, Eberlein spent a lot of time at Piazza Discepoli’s Glendale location. She struck up a friendship with store owner Steve Dinnerstein, and one day he asked if she’d like to work there. Eberlein, who was working from home at the time, jumped at the chance to make some extra income. For five years, she talked wine all day, made sure the store’s regulars were taken care of (“If a customer wants Chablis, we’ll have Chablis,” she jokes), and soaked up as much wine knowledge as she could. In 2015, Dinnerstein told her he was looking to work less and he casually asked if she had any interest in buying the store. Recognizing an opportunity to turn a passion to a profession, to transform a love to a life, Eberlein took the plunge into ownership in November of 2015, re-christening the store Village Wines of Glendale.

Uncorking the possibilities

Eberlein wasted no time in putting her fingerprints on Village Wines of Glendale – first, a revamped/reorganized floorplan, then a professionally hand-painted mural in the store’s bar and entertainment area, the Piccolo Wine Room. Mid-2016 brought a new chef, formerly of 20 Brix and Honey in Milford, and working with him and other staff on building a rotating menu that delivers a complete flavor experience. In addition to wine restaurant mainstays like a charcuterie board, Village Wines offers exotic, delicious takes on burgers, salads and flatbreads that change each weekend. Eberlein has also experimented with pop-up dinners, serving her guests special dinners that are paired with wines, and has tapped into Greater Cincinnati’s craft brewing culture by offering beer pairings.

Taste, however, isn’t the only sense guests will have engaged at Piccolo. There is live acoustic music every Friday evening and every other Saturday. The entertainment adds a layer of richness to an experience that is simultaneously intimate and casual. Yet Village Wines isn’t merely a venue for great food, great drinks and great music; it’s paradise for those who love to learn about wine.

Village Wines is host to frequent guest wine makers who lead tastings and educate customers about a region’s wines. They’ll describe the topography of the land and explain where grapes are grown to add context to flavors. This collegial wine experience is Eberlein’s gift to her customers. It’s a gift she gives enthusiastically.

“If someone is interested in a particular wine, I will take out a map and show them the village or city that wine comes from. I can explain, for example, that a particular region is known for a certain kind of soil and they have that soil because there was a glacier there thousands of years ago,” Eberlain explains. “I love finding answers to my customers’ questions.”

Love is the driving force at Village Wines of Glendale. Eberlein’s passion for where and how wine is made, and her desire to play matchmaker with a bottle and a palate, is what makes visiting the store an experience worth toasting.