Southwest Wake News

May 12, 2014

UnVine’d wine bar brings a hint of the past to downtown Cary

Alison Frey and her husband, Kevin, were regulars at a wine bar in downtown Cary when the owner told them he was ready to sell.

Alison Frey and her husband, Kevin, were regulars at a wine bar in downtown Cary when the owner told them he was ready to sell.

“We had been looking into different possibilities and were seriously considering a food truck when this came up,” Alison Frey said. “We realized this was easier and cheaper and just what we were looking for.”

They bought the business a year ago and tweaked the name to better suit their plans. UnVine’d Wine Bar and Tapas now stocks more than 50 kinds of wine and recently added a craft beer bar.

“Our spring menu will have more than 60 wines,” Frey said.

The wine is not your run-of-the-mill variety, she said. “They are all boutique wines. Once I see them in a grocery store, I pull them.”

She expects the craft beers to draw a new demographic. The wine bar and beer bar are at opposite ends of the space to allow for separation without either being segregated.

UnVine’d also offers small-plate appetizers, paninis and salads. The Freys hired their daughter, Taylor Becher, as chef.

Becher, who was trained in New York and Italy, has developed her own following, Frey said.

Tucked into the lower level of the all-brick Olde Cary Commons building, UnVine’d is designed to be reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy. Warm furnishings and artwork by local artists provide the setting for live jazz music every weekend and special events throughout the week.

“This is a challenging location,” Frey said. “We are making ourselves a destination.”

Frey said UnVine’d is not the typical bar. “It’s very low key. Cary needs this type of business.”

Regular customers range from young professionals to senior citizens.

“Most people find us by word of mouth,” Frey said, noting that the bar has become a popular date-night spot. “We see a lot of first dates.”

Frey said it is also a go-to place for women. “They like to come here for a glass of wine and know they’re not going to be bothered.”

During the Lazy Daze festival last year, Frey hired banjo player Mean Mary to entertain on the patio outside UnVine’d.

“As soon as she started playing, people were lining the fence,” Frey said. “We were here until 3 in the morning. We’ve already booked her for this year’s Lazy Daze.”

A glass of wine at UnVine’d often comes with a side of instruction. In addition to specific wine education events, the waitstaff is trained to give customers an experience.

Server Ryanne Watson “is a walking wine encyclopedia,” Frey said. Regular tasting events offer the opportunity to sample different wines without committing to a full glass.

“I’m very happy with our success,” Frey said. “People are hearing about us. They come here and they’re hooked.”

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