Wine took awhile to become mainstream in Western North Carolina, recalls Hunt Mallett, owner of the Weinhaus.
When his father started the business in 1977, he didn't have many competitors. “They were the only game in town,” Mallett says. “In fact, not just in town, but the whole western end of the state didn't really have much going.”
For decades, the Weinhaus has been a mainstay of downtown, with a legacy shared by only a couple of other businesses, including TOPS for Shoes and The Market Place. Now, it's evolving with upgrades: a cheese shop is moving in, along with a wine and beer bar.
Mallett's business partner, Katie Moore, will curate a selection of about 30 cheeses for sampling at the bar and taking home. She's sourcing local brands as well as imported varieties. One of her favorites is the semi-soft Monte Enebro, a goat's milk variety from Spain.
“With the cheese store, my goal is to get people in the door and really encourage them to try some stuff,” she says. “At the bigger grocery stores, there's not a lot of chances to try cheese or talk to a cheese monger.”
The new bar will complement the cheese-tasting experience. Order a selection of cheeses from the bar, sip a glass of wine or beer and listen to some live music. “We thought it would be a natural fit,” Mallett says.
The bar menu will include 12 local draft beers, a variety of wines by the glass and bottle, and a menu of light fare, including salads and sandwiches. “We're going to try to put an emphasis on not-really-loud music and early hours,” says Mallett, who plays banjo, guitar and bass.
Even as the Weinhaus grows, its focus on retail wine and beer will remain. Wine tastings on the first Friday of the month will continue as usual, and the inventory of wine and beer will remain about the same size. Some additional food items, as well as gift baskets and picnic lunches, will also be available.
The Weinhaus is located at 86 Patton Ave. For hours and more information, visit weinhaus.com.