February 17, 2016
Recently celebrating a reopening after some extensive renovations, Wine on High’s Christina Meehan and James Ehrman talk about what’s new with wine.
When Wine on High was redesigned, they put a lot of thought into the customer experience. Christina Meehan said that there is a lot of “nervousness associated with committing to a bottle [of wine]. People wonder whether the price is right, where it’s from, if they’d like it. It can be intimidating. The way we’ve tried to reimagine the store addresses all those issues, and actually makes the process fun.”
From first walking into the new Wine on High, you easily get a sense of this new approachability. Greeting shoppers at the front door is a floor-to-ceiling display filled with bottles. Hand picked by the store’s buyers, all of them are under $25.
“It’s perfect for when you find something you love,” Meehan said. “Our front-shelf wines are all great for just having around the house for when you get off work, cook up some dinner, or have a couple friends over.”
Getting people more comfortable with wine is key to the redesign. The new Wine on High is chic, but also friendly. The most obvious change is the addition of their long, white marble bar, offering a range of wines and tasting flights. Offering daily flights of three for just $15 and a bar menu that rotates both well-known and up-and-coming vintners, usually for less than $10 a glass, Wine on High makes a very strong argument for quality wines at a great value. Priding themselves on their knowledgeable staff, answering questions about everything from flavor profiles to geography, no one ever needs to worry about flying blind when purchasing a bottle again. Complimenting drinks at the bar is a nice tapas menu, with charcuterie, cheeses, olives, and other takes on classy munchies.
While the reasonable price range and friendly atmosphere lure people through the doors, it’s the knowledge and appreciation behind the store that keeps them coming back. James Ehrman, head buyer for the store, knows wine, and is well educated about the process behind winemaking.
Ehrman talked about meeting winemakers on a recent trip to Burgundy. “Seeing that kind of dedication and love for what you do,” he said, “it makes a lot of the decoration and noise around a bottle of wine go away and really makes you want to zone in and just focus on every flavor that went into this thing.”
Comfortably pouring a glass for a customer at the bar, Ehrman details the key factors he looks for in selecting bottles for the store, which is responsible production. “I try and focus on biodynamic producers, which makes finding quality actually a lot easier. These are producers who look at the environment of their farms and treat it as importantly as the vines themselves. It’s avoiding pesticides, it’s using natural fertilizers and planting methods, it’s all these things that you can only recognize after you’ve met with the farmers and shared the experience of the operation with them.”
Perfect for getting ready for a night on the town, winding down after a long dinner nearby, or to enjoy the high notes on their second floor lounge overlooking High Street, Wine on High is perched at the very center of the District and still manages to keep things cool and relaxed. Pairing world class knowledge with some typical Midwestern common sense, this spot is doing things right, and is a safe bet for having the legs to stick around.
– Tyler Wilson