MINNETONKA, Minnesota — There's a new destination for wine lovers, now open in Minnetonka.
Wineside Wine Bar & Market opened this week in the old Champps space near Ridgedale Center.
It includes a self-serve wine bar featuring 104 different wines, using enomatic wine dispensers.
"You can really go on a huge wine journey here," said Jon Halper, owner and CEO of Wineside.
While there are other places in the Twin Cities that have self-pour tap walls, Halper said Wineside is unique in the number of wines they offer to taste or by the glass.
"Retail is an evolving concept. People really want a different experience then simply going to a spot, finding what they want, and leaving," Halper said.
Halper, who is also the owner of Top Ten Liquors, said his dream of opening Wineside started about five years ago while on vacation with his family in the Caribbean Islands.
After stumbling upon a small wine bar, Halper recalled, "They had all these different wines in these machines and you could go up and try one ounce or get a glass of wine. I watched how much fun my family had and how engaging the experience was and decided at some point, maybe I'll do that."
About two years ago, Halper started looking into the idea. He wanted to not only open a wine bar but make it into an entire experience.
"We love our liquor store business but this is what we think is the evolution of the business where it's really interactive and experiential," Halper said.
"When you come in, we'll authorize a card for you to use for our enomatic wine system... it dispenses wine at a one ounce, a two-and-a-quarter ounce, and a five ounce pour," explained Nikki Erpelding, front of the house manager.
From there, customers can explore the different wines and order food through their phones using a QR code.
Chef JD Fratzke, food director and buyer for Wineside, said it allows people to graze at their own pace.
"You just order them by the each. 'Wow, that was really good. I want another one.' Then you order another one on your phone and it comes out to your table," Fratzke said.
Fratzke — who was behind The Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul — has been working in Twin Cities hospitality for 30 years.
He worked on a menu for Wineside that includes many shareable plates.
"I really love bold flavors. I love flavors that reflect places that Minnesotans would rather be sometimes like Southern France, or the Mediterranean, or Southeast Asia, or North Africa," Fratzke said.
There are three main meals: Braised beef rib, salmon roast, and chicken meatballs in red sauce. Fratzke said the braised beef rib is already their most popular of the three; it simmers in red wine with mirepoix vegetables for hours until tender. The menu also includes salads and desserts.
Wineside also includes a gourmet market, cheese department and full-service liquor store next door. Top Ten Liquors has a section with the wine featured at Wineside.
"If you buy any bottle that's $50 or more, we'll open it for free at Wineside. So we have no corkage fee for a lot of the wine that we carry in the store to make it a really different experience," Halper said.
Fratzke added, "This is a new way of approaching hospitality and we're so lucky to have something like this available to us in Minnesota."
Wineside is open daily, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. with lunch starting at 11 a.m.
1641 Plymouth Road
Minnetonka, MN 55305
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