Mar 27, 2012
Mar 26, 2012
Wine Spot in Eureka: Where everybody knows your name
By John Chiv/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 04/02/2011 02:43:05 AM PDT
Boston has Cheers; Eureka has the Wine Spot.
Regulars will tell you the Cheers theme song is very appropriate for this new business that opened a little over three months ago in Old Town but their own tagline, “where old friends go to meet new ones” more aptly describes the atmosphere owner Kat Combs works to create everyday.
A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the Wine Spot, 234 F St.
When Art of Wine closed, there was no place left in Eureka where people could go wine-tasting. Manager Tim Hendrix, who worked at the Art of Wine, was looking for investors to open a similar business. He knew Combs and her husband Ron from Art of Wine, and although there were a few investors interested, Hendrix picked Combs.
Combs was born in Crescent City, left Humboldt and most recently lived in Calaveras County -- where she met Ron. She has run many successful businesses including a karaoke and DJ business that kept them busy traveling five counties in Central California. Ron is now retired from PG&E and works as a consultant for the energy industry. Combs had been going to wineries for years and always wanted to open a wine bar.
Both Hendrix and Combs wanted The Wine Spot to be different. The focus is on wine-tasting and wine sales but they also offer beer, water, juice and non-alcoholic wine. Hendrix wanted to “take the stuffiness and mystery” out of wine and make it more about the sharing of friends and discovery.
To make the atmosphere more inviting, art adorns the walls above the wine racks and each day, there is an additional incentive for customers to come “hang out.” Tuesdays, there is a wine seminar and game night; Wednesdays, karaoke; Thursdays and Sundays potlucks and on Fridays they spin vinyl records. On Mondays, when they are closed, the Eureka Rotaract meets there.
Customer comments indicate that the Wine Spot has achieved its goal. The clientele is diverse, ranging in age, political beliefs and why they come to the Wine Spot. According to Jessica Ponsano, “It has a family atmosphere and not a bar set-up.” For Carly Robbins, it is getting to meet different people that she would normally not encounter. Ponsano added that “it is not intimidating and snooty” and that the environment makes it very open and welcoming for people to learn about wine. She looks forward to the Monday emails with details about the week's events.
Tracy Brand echoed the feelings of her friends at a nearby table: “The owners are social. The selection here is amazing and I don't feel pressured about buying.” Angie DePew likes that she can “hang out with my adult kids and that this is not a sleazy bar.”
Listening to these customer's feelings at Sunday brunch made Combs smile. She said she wanted to create an atmosphere “where ladies can come in after work, have a glass of wine with friends and feel comfortable and relax. Everyone here feels like family. We are very open to customer feedback and the ambiance just happened naturally.”
Promoting California, especially Humboldt, is obvious in all aspects of the business. They feature wines from the best of Humboldt County wineries; all over the West Coast and are branching out to international selections. Each month, the Wine Spot features Humboldt County local artists on a rotating basis.
Since she moved to Humboldt in 2001, community has been very important to Combs. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Combs and friends feed the homeless on the corner of Fairfield and Hawthorne. The Wine Spot is just another way Combs said she can contribute to a positive atmosphere to the place she calls home. When asked if she thought a wine bar was a risky proposition in today's economy, especially Humboldt, Combs commented, “It was a little scary at times at first but it is starting to pay its own way.”
For more information on the Wine Spot, call 497-6236.