Cove couple opening wine tasting room, café
Fri, 2016-10-28 05:00 News Staff
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Copperas Cove will soon have its own wine tasting room and cafe’ come early November when Unwind! Opens its doors at 175 W. Business 190 Suite 4, across the parking lot from Candy Outfitters in Frontier Hills Shopping Center.
Alicia Menard, former president of Lampasas County Chamber of Commerce, said she’d had a dream of opening a wine tasting room and had written a business plan several years ago and tucked it away.
Six to eight months ago, her husband, Conrad, suggested she pull out the business plan and take another look. He’d completed his retirement from the military and their children were both in high school, so maybe it was time for her to go forward, he said.
Unwind! will specialize in Texas wines only, along with selling craft beers and offering a bistro menu.
“I have just grown a love for the Texas wine industry through working at the chamber and working with all of our local wineries,” Menard said. “My husband and I, that became our weekend thing, traveling around to wineries in Texas and it just grew from there. When my husband retired from the military, he was helping one of the local wineries in their vineyard and he found a passion for it as well.
He cooked for their second Friday happy hours every month, and seeing the crowds that would come out for that, we realized that so many people from the Fort Hood area and the Central Texas area really were disappointed that there wasn’t something closer.”
The Menards found the location in the plaza and the space is nearly ready for customers, and Alicia hopes wine enthusiasts will enjoy finding something close to home.
“The wine industry has just exploded and it’s becoming so popular, not just with ages 45 and over, but even younger generations are finding an interest in wine.” She said there’s a wine bar in Killeen, but they don’t carry Texas wines.
“Texas is number two in the world as far as producing wines and having such a large wine country,” Alicia added. “We’re right there next to California. In some research we’ve done, we have visited with several people and craft beer is becoming more and more popular. My dad said, ‘You’ve got to have something else to offer the men besides wine, so that’s where the craft beer side came in.”
Conrad will put his culinary skills to work in the kitchen at Unwind!.
“We’re working with Sysco and a couple chefs through them. We have a few key items we know we’re going to have on the menu,” Alicia said. “It definitely all will be homemade and fresh; we’re not doing things out of the tub, so to speak. We’re sticking with bistro style menu that offers a nice selection of appetizers and sliders and paninis, various salads and things like that.”
The plan is also to have house specials on Friday and Saturday nights with a selection of entrees.
In addition to starting off with selling wines from area wineries like Texas Legato, Pillar Bluff, Fiesta, Pilot Knob, Thirsty Mule, Georgetown Winery, Kissing Tree, Red Wing Dove, Spicewood, Dripping Springs, Unwind! will also feature five house wines crafted by Conrad himself.
“We’re working with Dan (Marek) from Georgetown Winery. He also has Thirsty Mule. We’re purchasing grapes from various vineyards in Texas that have a surplus or extra grapes. We’ll have those shipped to Dan and my husband will go spend a weekend processing and bottling it.”
Plans are for five house wines, a sweet white and a dry white, a sweet red and a dry red, as well as a rose’, Alicia added.
She said there will be a total of 15-20 different Texas wineries featured in the tasting room the first year, with that number to grow to as many as 60-100 Texas wines as time goes on.
Also with the house wines, Alicia said keeping the price down by the bottle and the glass has been key.
“We needed to have some house wines that we can keep at that $12-$15 price range. We’ll have several others there as well. For me, I don’t want every glass of wine to be $6-8 dollars. I want to have wines at $3 to $3.50, so we had to figure out how to do the pricing.”
For Alicia, one of the hardest parts was coming up with the name for the tasting room and cafe’.
“We had tossed around so many different names, and it seemed like every name we came up with was wine-related. But we didn’t want people to think it was just a wine tasting room,” she said. “Then I went to sleep one night and woke up in the middle of night and thought, ‘Oh my gosh—Unwind!’ so I wrote it down. We went out to the grape harvest at Texas Legato, and I just asked the group what they thought of the name, and they said, ‘It sounds like a place to go relax.’ So that’s how it came about. A place for people to unwind and enjoy wine or beer, and good food.”
Alicia said Unwind! will also have a selection of soft drinks, flavored teas, and in the winter time, flavored coffee.
They are aiming to open the first weekend in November, but no later than Nov. 9 or 10 and already have a ribbon cutting scheduled for Nov. 22 with the Lampasas County Chamber of Commerce. Unwind!’s website is unwindtexasstyle.com.