Happy New Year, Wine-o’s! Whether you’re a long time wine drinker/lover or just looking at this blog to find something new – I guarantee there is a wine bar in here you can get excited for. During the fall I went all around the Appleton/Fox Valley area to find fun and unique places to have a good glass of wine – and you all loved it. So, I am back again to show you all what the Green Bay area has to offer (and trust me, it’s more than you think!).
My first stop on my wine journey was an unexpected experience at a Spanish driven restaurant and wine bar. This was the type of place I could picture going in to enjoy a nice intimate dinner or a fun drink with friends after work. I had the pleasure to meet and taste with both of the owners and they made me feel right at home. While interviewing, I was also learning a lot about all of the events, wine, and food that Madrid has to offer. Beginning the moment you walk in you are overwhelmed with bright colors, smiles, and a warm and lively environment that transports you. There is dim and intimate lighting, with mostly natural light coming from the large windows at the front of the restaurant. The kitchen and bar are all together with an open concept allowing you to see the staff the entire time – no matter what task they are doing. Whether it’s the brick walls, plants, or fun rugs or pillows there will be something in Madrid that will capture your eye.
The wine selection at Madrid is plentiful – beginning with their half-of-a-wall wine rack full of options. By the glass, they offer 18 options varying between reds and whites. However, this does not include their dessert, cheri, and port options which are also available by the glass. If you’re looking for a bottle to take home with your friends or family, they also offer about 700 different options of retail. All of their wines range between domestic and international, but Madrid does specialize in Spanish wines. They also have various different types of wine glasses to match with type of wine you are drinking.
Beyond the Wine Options
Along with Madrid’s Spanish interior and extensive Spanish wine options, they are also a tapas restaurant specializing in options authentic to Spain. It was fun looking over their menu too because each option comes with an explanation of what each dish is in depth, along with which course is best to enjoy it for. They run by regular bar hours – except their winter hours are listed as closing at 1 AM rather than bar close. This does change once the summer rolls in for fun all night long. Madrid also has a full bar offering after dinner drinks, cocktails, and beer for those who aren’t the biggest fans of wine. They have a happy hour throughout the week running from 3-6 PM featuring $1.00 off all glasses of wine. As for events, Madrid features Flamenco dancing twice a year, wine dinners quarterly, and live music on Wednesday and Friday nights (more info can be found on their Facebook page).
From the Staff: Amanda – Owner
“It’s a family-owned establishment, we aren’t a corporate establishment. So you might see our kids in here. We want you to be comfortable and sit back and relax. We are a Spanish restaurant and we specialize in Tapas. I love wine. When you think about wine you think about family and friends around a table enjoying each others company.”
- Eternally Silenced – David Thinney The Prisoner Wine Company Pinot Noir (Oakville California)
- Drinks like a French shiraz, tasty and light while also being rich and smooth. Smells of bright cherry and cranberries, yet drinks with a little bit of spice balanced with red berry flavors.
- Singing Tree Chardonnay – Goldschmitt Vineyards (Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley
- I learned that this location is the perfect growing grounds for the Chardonnay Grape – delicious! More of a backbone for a chardonnay, has more layers of complexity with a bit of oak to it. Tastes of peach and mango with a nice bright flavor to it.
- 1808 – Rioja, Crianza (aged in oak for 12 months)(100% Tempranillo)
- The top seller at Madrid, has a good backbone, changes so much from the time you open it to the time you’re finished. Really well paired with dry or aged cheeses.
- Freixenet – Italian Rose
- Meaning little ash tree, Freixenet is a sparkling rose that is hugely based in Barcelona. Gorgeous color, persistent bubbles with subtle tastes of strawberry, melon, cantaloupe and peach. A semi-dry rose that is perfect for everyone.
#2 – Studio 1212
Studio 1212 was quite the change from Madrid – but an awesome contrast for a change of scenery. Studio 1212 is right on the water in their own little quiet and quaint area. Their interior had more of a modern, industrial, and chic feel to it. It was an extremely clean and organized setting with very friendly and knowledgable staff. Their fresh food comes from local businesses and farmers and they seem dedicated to making sure their customers are 100% satisfied. They strive for high quality food and drinks – and I was far from disappointed.
Although Studio 1212 does not yet sell by the bottle, they do have about 30 options by the glass that they offer for their customers. All varying between white and red, and international and domestic options. Most of their wines are California based, however there are options for those international wine lovers. Coming from regions like New Zealand, Italy, and Argentina, there is something for everyone. The owner likes to bring in fun and new wines for her customers to try that she also personally enjoys. On Wednesdays, they feature their wine specifically by having “Wine Down Wednesday’s” where all bottles of wine are half (yes, you read that right, half) off. Their wine selection started about 2 years ago, but the owner says they are continuing to keep branching out for new things for their customers to try.
Beyond the Wine Options
Along with their “Wine Down Wednesday”, every night of the week has a special at Studio 1212. For example, on Tuesdays they have their “Tini Tuesday” featuring all of their unique and fun martini recipes for only $5.00. They are also a full bar featuring tons of signature cocktails. Studio 1212 enjoys doing a lot of infusing with their cocktails – such as cocktails using infused vodkas; however they have multiple options in all fields of cocktails. They also have a full kitchen with both vegetarian and vegan options. There are plenty of events that Studio 1212 hosts or that you can host right from Studio 1212. Ranging from live music on Saturdays to having their own events room to host your next party in, Studio 1212 has it all.
From the Staff: Beth – Owner
“It’s a relaxed atmosphere where they can come and enjoy a quality meal and quality wine. The whole vision of this was to offer something we didn’t typically see in Green Bay. My husband and I like to travel a lot and we like to bring a lot of that back here. We like to host a live music night. My previous job boasted a lot about high quality service with high quality food and options and that is our goal. We have quality customers here and we have a fantastic team which just leads to enjoying the whole package and being able to relax and enjoy.”
- Flor de Campo – Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara, California)
- Cherry and cranberry flavor, deeper, smoky, with a little hint of soil/earthiness. Full bodied red. Little bit of vanilla flavoring on the end. More on the drier and acidic side. Would pair well with a light chicken dinner.
- Predator – Zinfandel (Lodi, California)
- Old vine zin. Heavier with deep, red grape flavors. Can really taste the smoky parts throughout this wine. Tobacco and spice combine beautifully. Subtle hints of fruits such as cherry and blackberry. Slightly jammy on the palate.
- NZ 7 – White Blend (New Zealand)
- Very nice acidity with fruit flavors of grapefruit and pear. Very balanced between fruity and acidic. The best grapes in the region are used in this wine.
- Anterra – Pinot Grigio (Italy)
- Straight across the board wine, great grapes. No bite to it, just a smooth drinking wine. A good wine for a more experience palate. Would be delicious paired with either a nice seafood meal, or a vegetarian meal. On the drier side for a Pinot Grigio.
#3 – The Bottle Room
The Bottle Room is the perfect place to go for a laid back, lounging, and socializing environment. There are no TV’s in the entire place to attempt to get people back into the “old art of socializing”. There is a mix between high top tables and low pub tables for seating options, along with the large bar. Right in the center of the bar is a fireplace for customers to relax by, and in the summer they open up an outdoor patio. If you love to discover new wines, this is the place to go. They have an entire wall of their whole bar filled with plentiful options of retail bottles – labeled at customers convenience. Sleek and elegant while also inviting, The Bottle Room has something for all.
Within that entire wall of bottles there are about 400 different bottle options for customers to purchase. Usually, they serve about 40-50 options by the glass. Once again, they serve both international and domestic wine options but the bottle room has a very wide range of countries they serve wine from. With some of the typical countries including New Zealand, Italy, or France along with some of the not-so-typical like South Africa and Spain. The owner and his wife enjoy traveling around to new countries and discovering new wines to showcase to their customers. They love bringing in wines they know while also bringing in new things for both them and their clientele. Their prices range from about $5-$6.00 a glass all the way to $15.00 a glass.
Beyond the Wine Options
They feature a full menu along with having a full bar with beer and cocktails. There are specials Monday – Wednesday featuring half priced wine glasses on Monday, another “Tini Tuesday”, and half priced draft beer on Wednesdays. Saturdays are also a special day featuring both mimosa flights and Bloody Mary boots. Every year they make it a point to do a bus trip out to Door County – always having something a little new to do each year. Fridays and Saturdays are also the days they feature live music.
From the Staff: Justin – Owner
“The Bottle Room was inspired by two individuals that loved wine and wanted to invite other people to come and enjoy our passion. We do private events in the backroom, we temperature control all of our wines, we put out wine in really good glassware; I think these are some things that set us apart from other places that serve wine. We are a full restaurant, we definitely have a full menu between sandwiches and pizzas and shareable plates – you name it. We have awesome cocktails and draft beers as well.”
- Mallee Estate – Moscato (South Australia)
- Bright acidity, with a classic moscato grape taste. Not too sticky leading to an easy drinking wine. Nice notes of melon flavors. Has a slight frizzante style. A sweet and soft finish.
- 99 West – Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley, Oregon)
- Good minerality with neutral and bright flavors. Well balanced with a little bit of a grit. Not overly chalky, with a lemon scent. A little on the drier side but still with a nice sweetness to it. A nice, soft white with just a little hint of acidity.
- Kolios Status 99 – Mourvedre & Cab Franc Blend (Cyprus, Greece)
- A lighter wine, not a lot of tannins. Nice oak presence, little bit of sweet vanilla. Soil and cherry scent to it, following through with a cherry and vanilla taste. Hints of cherry and pomegranate.
- Kopke Tawny 10 Year (Douro Valley, Portugal)
- Smokey cedar, dark berries, vanilla tones. Nutty aromas on the nose.
- Louis M. Martini – Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)
- Caramel, butterscotch, raisin, nice long finish, sweet finish. A very much get-your-moneys-worth wine.
#4 – Aardvark Wine Lounge
Aardvark brings together a cozy atmosphere with an international influence. The owner told me that the people the lounge attracts are also the people that shape their aesthetic. This typically being open-minded, intelligent, and artistic individuals. The aardvark logo is derived from South Africa, along with some of their wine and food options. The interior is covered with intricate lighting fixtures and quirky artwork – plenty to look at while sipping on an “interesting” glass of wine. (Get it? I used their catch phrase.)
Varying between white and red wines, Aardvark offers about 16 options by the glass. Their wines change quite frequently, so there is no “wine list”. Their wine is served from coolers which keep the reds and the whites at the appropriate temperates for drinking. Each customer gets a card which acts as their payment for the night when they pour each glass of wine. At the end of the night, the card is where their tab is held and then paid. Each wine can be drank either at a sample size, a half glass, or a full glass which are all priced based on the price of the wine being poured. Anyone can also purchase a bottle of the wines that are featured by the glass for retail options. Their menu is constantly changing and they are always trying to find new things. They occasionally offer domestic wine options, but mostly carry international options. Their wine glass prices range from about $7.00-$25.00.
* Fun fact: 11 of the wines they featured this year were in Wine Enthusiasts Top 100 wines in the world.
Beyond the Wine Options
They do have limited cocktails and beer, and Aardvark works with Badger State brewing for their beers that they feature. There is one featured specialty cocktail called Caperitif, and they have Amarula which is a ream liquor made with Marula fruit. They have a food menu featuring smaller food items like charcuterie and fondu. One of their food specialties being Piadina’s which are folded Italian-styled flatbreads. They do have special events that arise as they go, however some of their regular events include their Drag Me To Brunch once a month and art show once a month (more information can be found on their Facebook page).
From the Staff: Jillian – Owner
“Come experience delicious culture in a cozy space; where you can relax and leave the world behind you, where interesting people enjoy interesting wine!”
- Lubanzi – Chenin Blanc (Swartland, South Africa)
- Complex white, with a sassy tartness, fresh, citrus flavors, a white wine that red wine drinkers could get after.
- Vin Gris De Cigare – Rose Blend (King City, California)
- Light, smells of strawberry, fruit-sweet but with subtleness of what would be a floral sweetness.
- Duxoup Dolcetto (Healdsburg, California)
- Lightness of a pinot noir but with a fun complexity you don’t find with a pinot noir. A crowd pleaser. Something you could give to a white drinker to push their palette.
- Alpha Omega Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA)
- Dry, fast finish, dark cherry and plum notes. A full-bodied wine.
#5 – Amphora Wine Bar
The interior of Amphora Wine is designed to look like a Los Angelos 1930’s art deco scene – and they nailed it! You immediately feel like you’ve walked into one of Gatsby’s party’s and you are at the top of the list. Everywhere you look there is something gold, something shimmering, something grabbing your attention. There are fun wallpapers and artistic lamps and lights. Tons of fun and interesting stuff to look at and make you feel like you have transported somewhere new for even just a while. Also – this hidden gem has only been open for about two months now!
Beginning with the basic details – Amphora has great knowledge in the wines they serve. There are both reds and whites, along with both international and domestic wines. They serve about 43 wine options by the glass varying all the way from reds and whites to desserts, ports, bubblies, and Sherry’s. There are glass pours available from every major wine pouring country in the world. The average price ranges from about $8.00-$9.00 for a white and $8.00-$10.00 for a red. Amphora offers wine flights that are not pre-destined – meaning that you can choose from any of their wines to try at a flight price which is listed on their menu. Any three wines for any three ounce pour. They also told me they have two things unique they have to offer Green Bay:
- They don’t use any all purpose glassware. They use Riedel stemware to match each type of wine you are drinking. This has led to them having 13 different types of glassware for wine.
- All of their wines are poured using the Coravin system so their wine can never oxidize.
Beyond the Wine Options
Amphora has a full bar with 12 different draft beers on tap with a majority of them being beers from Wisconsin – including a Wisconsin made cider! They also have a curated list of craft cocktails that continues to grow as they do. Most of the cocktails are classic prohibition era cocktails with a modern twist. The list will constantly be influx – they currently have eight cocktails on their menu but will soon be expanding to about a dozen. Newly launched about two and a half weeks ago is their food menu featuring small bites, bar snacks, and shareable platters. The feel of their shareable platters is elevated global comfort food with a little bit of a twist to it. There is a back courtyard that opens up during the summer months for bands during the farmers market. They typically have jazz combos or blues bands playing. In the back of Amphora, there is also an entire back room with its own bar that is available for renting out.
From the Staff: Michael – Wine Consultant
“Our focus was that we wanted to bring something, in terms of a wine bar, more cosmopolitan and elevated to the Green Bay Area. Another big reason was that we thought the Broadway district still had a lot of room for growth and we saw that this is the next entertainment district and we felt this would be perfect for an upscale feel that is comfortable and entertaining for anyone.”
- Karl Erbes Urziger Wurzgarten – Riesling Kabinett (Mosel Region, Germany)
- Creator was born and raised in Germany, so connection with a lot of producers that don’t otherwise advertise. Wine is available only in Wisconsin and Japan outside of Germany. One of the most famous riesling producers in the world. Acidity helps to clean up the sweetness. Honeycomb flavors, stone fruits. Soaring, mouthwatering acidity.
- Meyer-Fonne Vin D’Alsace Edelzwicker (Berkeley, California)
- Made with Pinot Blanc, Chasselas, Muscat. Partially barrel-aged. Tastes of both fresh and mature, attractive to people who are attracted to old world wines and chardonnay drinkers looking to expand, bright fruit flavors, richness you would expect from a chardonnay but not with the wood-y, creamy textures of a chardonnay, tongue-coating finish
- The Whole Shebang – Red Blend (Bedrock wine Company) (California)
- Blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Alicante. Fresh vibrant fruit, the average age of the Zinfandel grapes is about 100-130 years aged, cracked pepper and boysenberry, fresh and snappy
- Villa Giada Barbara D’Asti (Piedmont, Italy)
- Soft cherry fruit, known to be an easy drinking red. Soft and velvety, tannins are not too grippy. Bright acidity with a tinge of backend spice. See’s no oak – aged in stainless steel. Means “Sunny Side of the hill” in which the grapes receive sun from sun up to sun down. Created by a husband and wife duo for two and a half centuries.
There you have it folks – Green Bay has so much to offer when it comes to amazing places to enjoy your next glass of wine. All with their own unique environment, food items, and wine options to fit whichever mood you may be in. Have you guys tried any of these wine bars? Which one was your favorite, and which one are you excited to try next? Let me know in the comments, and who knows – we may just run into each other.