When Eastwood resident and wine bar owner Jennifer Rodriguez opened Urban Vines with her co-owner and fiancé, Jon Sparks, she set out to create the ideal setting to unwind.
“Every time that I visited a wine bar, I always thought of what I would do differently if I was in charge, so I decided to create one of my own,” Rodriguez says. And despite the fact that Rodriguez was — and still is — busy as a full-time lawyer, Urban Vines opened just over a year ago.
“We needed something like this on this side of the lake,” she says. “We have some great businesses on this side, but we needed some wine.”
Longtime bartender and Little Forest Hills neighbor Paul Kissell serves as the bar’s wine buyer and general manager. He says that the wine list doesn’t include anything that you’d find in the liquor or grocery store. Instead, there’s a nice assortment of Old World and New World wines from a number of regions available by the glass or bottle. Kissell also travels to wineries as much as possible to buy bottles directly from distributors. Just last month he traveled to Sonoma for the task. He says that he takes pride in working at one of the only wine-driven concepts in the neighborhood. “Goodfriend has the beer, and we have the wine.” Urban Vines also has a full kitchen, which is pretty unique for a wine bar. There are the standards such as the meat and cheese board or flatbread pizza, but Rodriguez says customers request the salmon crostini the most. When Rodriguez isn’t busy carrying out plates of food to tables, she says she likes to sit at her bar and reflect.
“Those nights when the place is full, the employees are moving like a well-oiled machine, and people are laughing, it all falls into place,” she says. “It’s a lot of pride. It’s an amazing thing.”
Price range: $7-$28
Hours: 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.; 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Tip: Sit near the fireplace and sip a glass of Malbec with a four-legged friend on the pet-friendly patio.
Did you know? You can grab leftover wine corks from a pile near the patio’s water fountain for crafts, or contribute your own.