Downtown is half empty for beer, half full for wine

As beer tasting makes its way through the process of being an allowed use in the downtown, wine tasting is well on its way to Main Street.

Plans were approved last year to convert the former Link’s Men’s and Women’s Wear building at 115 E. Main St. into a wine shop with wine tasting. The 1,300-square foot downstairs of the venerable clothing store will soon be a wine shop and lounge with a tasting counter. Customers will be able to order from a selection of 10-15 wines served by the glass each day. There will also be daily samplings of three to five wines in one-ounce pours. Surrounding the counter will also be wooden, island shelves where customers can peruse an even greater variety of bottled wines from which they can purchase to take home.

Unlike its beer counterparts, wine tasting is already included in the zoning. The building’s location on Main Street means it falls in the City’s Planned Central Business Retail district which considers wine tasting a “compatible use” and even has a separate line item in the code. As an extra but unrequired step, those presenting the project said the retail and wine tasting establishment will also offer a menu of gourmet Panini sandwiches, appetizers and desserts.

The project is a second location for Blend Wine Room which has been operating in downtown Kingsburg for the last four years. In their proposal, owners Luis and Rachel Patlan stated, “Blend Wine Room will cater to a mature clientele from the novice to the wine connoisseur. The ambiance will feature a quiet elegance where patrons can sit back, relax and enjoy their favorite wine.”

Light music will be played for ambiance, and on Friday and Saturday nights the shop is planning to have single and duet live music about twice per month. There will not be a cover charge. There will be a recessed patio where patrons can have some food in an outdoor eating area, but only private club members will be allowed to drink wine in the area.

Once per month, Blend Wine Room will hold “Wine Maker Dinners” where wine makers from California’s grape growing regions will come and do wine pairings with a four-course meal prepared by local chefs, something the owners have done in Kingsburg. They are planning to hire up to six employees to work the wine tasting and retail location.

The Planning Commission recommended several conditions for the project, such as limiting hours to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every other night, prohibiting the sale of beer and liquor and prohibiting dancing.

The Planning Commission approved the wine tasting and retail location with a unanimous vote in April 2015. The last related business to be approved by the Planning Commission was a retail store that also offered wine tasting in 2002.

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