After some delays, Vini Wine Bar in downtown opened for business this summer on July 15.
The 611 Second Street bar, across from the Varsity Theater, is inspired by owner Jeff Day’s love of jazz, which was cultivated by his drum-playing father, John Day. Jazz album murals cover what Day says are limestone walls, while the silhouette of a man playing a trumpet decorates the front window. Dark tables and chairs fill the seating area.
The bar houses an Enomatic wine dispensing system—an automated wine server that allows customers to purchase two-ounce tastings, using prepaid cards and choosing from among 72 different selections. There are 24 whites and 48 reds.
Vini also serves wine by the glass, along with beer, champagnes and assorted cheese plates, spreads and olives provided by Stone’s Catering.
Day said he first read about the Enomatic machine being used years ago in San Francisco, so he checked it out and quickly became enamored of it.
“I never worked in a bar or restaurant before this and I really wanted the opportunity to introduce the Enomatic because I dug it so much,” he said. “It’s a good pairing with the jazz genre and it’s a totally different experience with wine tasting.”
Vini was originally expected to open in the spring of 2011, but Day said some of setbacks came in part from having to hire a new designer after the first dropped the ball on his plans. The Davis native said it also took seven months to obtain a liquor license.
“It was a really strange feeling when it opened,” he said. “I stayed up the whole night the night before because I was so energized.”
“There’s two completely different vibes,” Day said of the bar's ambience. “Earlier in the day it’s mellow. I’ll play Sinatra. It’s a relaxing time. During the evening, it’s high energy, social, louder. I’ll play jazz videos from the Jazz Icon DVD series.”
Tasting wines are organized either by the region they come from or by variety. For example, the Zinfandel section of wines is called “In Zin We Trust” and the Italian wines are grouped together under the name “The Italian Job.”
Live music isn’t in Vini’s future, something that Day said isn’t too disappointing since he had the acoustics checked and was told that the front window was the only place performances would have worked. This was solidified back in May when the City of Davis’s Planning Commission approved Vini to open, with the condition that there could be no live music.
“They were concerned that I wanted to turn it into a jazz club because the furniture can be moved,” he said. “I still would have liked to have the flexibility.”
Day said he said anticipates a lot of business from a younger crowd of legal-age students once school rolls around in September.
On Mondays, starting on Sept. 10, California State University, Chico professor Donal Smith will be teaching wine appreciation classes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Otherwise, beginning in September, the space will be open for large groups to reserve.
“The ultimate goal is to provide a unique wine tasting experience in an upscale environment,” said Day.
Vini is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 11 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday noon to 8 p.m.