Dilworth Tasting Room will cater to all — be it wine aficionado or novice
January 9, 2017
Dilworth Tasting Room aims to become a neighborhood gathering spot when it opens this Wednesday.
Owner Jaffer Kovic says the tasting room at 300 E. Tremont Ave. is designed to let people experiment and test new wines — without judgment.
“Come in relax, drink what you want,” he says. “It’s a neighborhood bar and this is why we’re here.”
Kovic is a former wine director and sommelier, with experience at a bar and restaurant concept in New York. His family left New York City behind last year, seeking a more laid-back lifestyle.
“We wanted to do our own thing,” he says.
He stumbled across the former Dilworth Billiards site on Tremont while exploring options for his own wine venture. That private billiards club was owned and operated by Eric Sprouse for more than 35 years before closing in 2015.
“Things just happen for a reason,” Kovic says. “I knew this was it and pulled the trigger on it.”
Kovic’s love of wine started in an unlikely fashion.
He enrolled in a domestic wines course while at student at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Asked for his first impression of wine by the professor, he remembers saying he couldn’t stand it — it was pompous and expensive.
Before he knew it, he fell in love.
He switched his major and has dabbled in a career path that kept wines in the forefront – that is, minus eight months touring as the bass player for a heavy metal band.
“Wine really brings a lot of people together,” Kovic says.
Roughly 30 wines will be available by the glass with options spanning the globe. Wines will be between $9 and $40 a glass with varieties such as California wines, champagne, dessert wines, ports and sherry.
Every night at 9 p.m., he plans to take a bottle of wine off the wall and let people taste it.
“It could be anything. We just want to have fun with it,” Kovic says.
He’ll also do daily tastings for staff to help continue their growth.
There also will be a selection of beers from around the world.
Retail sales will provide access to roughly 100 different types of wine. Guests can choose from the wall to take home or enjoy in the tasting room if they choose, Kovic says.
Bottle of wines will range from $24 to $300 — and be priced to sell.
“I want to move product. I want it to be enjoyed. Wine is meant to be consumed, not looked at,” Kovic says.
Ivana Bekevac has signed on as chef.
Though the space doesn’t have a full kitchen, she’s created a menu of simple fare. That includes cheese boards with a number of European selections and charcuterie. Snack on marcana almonds, mixed olives olive tapenade and flatbread or roasted zucchini and goat cheese with tomato jam.
There also will be options such as salads, paninis and desserts such as the raw chocolate truffles and hazelnut panna cotta.
“You really have to know how to be creative in this environment,” Bekevac says.
The roughly 3,000-square-foot space has been given a personal touch.
Kovic and his father, Hase Kovic, worked together to create the tasting room’s mahogany bar by hand, including its copper accents and detailed ironwork on the edges.
“I always knew if I did a bar on my own, he was going to build it,” Kovic says.
That attention to detail is mirrored in columns throughout the property, now faced with wood, angled iron and carriage bolts.
There’s exposed brick and street-front windows. Concrete floors have been sealed to a high shine — but still show the lines of original tiles that were in the billiards hall in places.
Gold-plated globes and pipe-fittings-turned-light-fixtures add additional character. Soft seating includes red and navy blue tufted sofas and banquettes.
The property also is home to a an enclosed courtyard, which features a copper-topped bar.
The wine bar will be open from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. No decision has been made about Sundays as of yet.
Delivery will also be offered.
Plans call for a full espresso bar with Stumptown Coffee to begin operation in mid-March. It is expected to offer pastries and coffee from 5:30 a.m. until around 9 a.m.
Jennifer Thomas covers retail, health care and education for the Charlotte Business Journal.