Thursday, August 11, 2022

Couple toasts 10 years of tastings

Hazel and Dan Adams love sharing wine with friends at Grapes to Wine in Bartonville. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

Dan Adams thought he was headed towards semi-retirement after he and wife Hazel sold their Grapes to Wine business late in 2018. But, fate put a cork in that plan and the couple is back in charge of the popular gathering spot in Bartonville Town Center.

They returned in August and have worked hard to improve on what previously made them a success.

“We’re glad to be back because we never truly wanted to leave so it’s exciting and [we] just want everyone to know we are back,” said Adams. “Your old friends are back and come see us again. We are your neighborhood wine bar.”

Since their return, the Adams’ have made a few changes, including remodeling the patio and expanding on the living room vibe throughout their facility. What has continued is the wide variety of wines and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

“That’s a very, very important part for us, is the music side,” said Adams, who features artists who play songs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. “We have had some very famous people play here, including a few who have sung on The Voiceand gone on to do some great things.”

Adams’ love of wine came from growing up in– and traveling around– Europe, where he was exposed to vino earlier than most. He even learned how to make wine.

“I’ve always loved wine and introduced Hazel to wine,” he said. “I just thought it would be fun to show people different wines from around the world.”

The couple met in Baltimore where she started her career with the Federal Reserve Bank and he owned a furniture reproduction store. She walked in the store and bought some furniture and he started pursuing her. They moved to Atlanta then North Texas to allow Hazel to further her career at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Adams later went to work in the golf manufacturing industry, from which he retired after opening Grapes to Wine in a smaller space in the same building in 2010.

“It has grown exponentially,” Adams said. “We started off as a little wine shop that did wine and beer out the door. Then we started our wine club to educate people on the experience of drinking wine and that grew like crazy; and, we had to take on extra space. We expanded where we were and then five years ago, this space came available and we remodeled it and have been here ever since.

“The Grapes to Wine clubs are unique, because you have the opportunity to taste the wines being offered and choose to select those you like; whereas, the majority of wine clubs select the wines you get. Therefore, our approximately 250 club members pay a monthly fee to taste, choose and take home bottles of wine. That’s what has made us popular.”

Adams said Texas is the largest consumer of wine in the United States, which is one reason Grapes to Wine typically stocks around 250 varieties from all over the globe at any one time and sells nearly 300 bottles each month. It has access to wine from about every country, except China, which does not export its wine.

“We are very appreciative of our local community support, so we try to give back to them,” Adams said. “For us, our saying is, ‘enter as strangers, leave as friends.’ We know many, many people who have met here and have become very good friends. It’s a fun, community gathering place.”

While only open most days between 3 and 9 p.m., the business takes up much more of Adams’ time handling other business matters.

“We do wine tastings with the distributors three- to four-days a week,” he said. “They bring us samples and we try them and that’s how we build our wine clubs.

“In Texas, we have to work with distributors, even though we are truly a winery. Going forward, we are planning to begin working more with the wine makers. That will give us more access.”

Adams said there is an art to drinking wine, something he helps teach his customers.

“There are people who don’t know how to drink it and don’t know what to expect,” he said. “And for us, it’s teaching you as to what your palate tastes and what you like and as you grow older it changes.

“My thinking of wine is the enjoyment, the atmosphere you are in to make it fun and exciting, but also learning what you like and what regions they are from is fun. That’s the purpose of the wine clubs.”

It’s all about the fundamentals of wine-tasting and how to drink a glass of wine.

“You just don’t drink wine,” he said. “You can’t let it touch the tip of your tongue. It has to go the middle of your tongue and relax and breathe. It’s a process. When you know how to drink wine and know your palate, you also learn what foods are really, really good. When you learn how to drink properly, you learn how to eat properly.”

Besides the education angle, what separates Grapes to Wine from others in their industry is that patrons can try it and buy it there.

“We also do some nice little food options,” Adams said. “We’re not a restaurant and don’t want to be, but we do have a small menu with flatbreads, meat trays, cheese trays, charcuterie and stuff like that.

“What I think sets us apart from everyone else, is we always present ourselves as this is our living room. It’s very comfortable here, with comfortable chairs; it’s cozy. You can have a glass of wine and sit there and relax.

“We have business meetings, we have little events. You name it we’ve done it, from weddings to funerals.”

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