BY JEREMY SHERE
Last autumn, when several employees of Oliver Winery were having dinner in a restaurant on the downtown Square, their conversation kept turning to how active and lively downtown Bloomington can be. “And then we thought, why don’t we open our own space downtown?” says Jessika Hane, Oliver’s human resources director. “It seemed like a great way to introduce ourselves to new customers and a chance to do something really different.”
One year later, Oliver Winery has in fact opened a tasting room and wine bar on the Square, called Oliver Winery Downtown. Working with local architecture firm Kirkwood Design Studio and Bloomington-based contractors Joe and Andy Moore, Oliver renovated a 2,400-square-foot space on the west side of the Square and, with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association, restored the facade to its art deco origins. Inside, the space includes a large tasting/dining room and special-events area featuring several unique design touches, including exposed brick walls, terrazzo flooring, Indiana limestone, and a large pentaptych by artist Lara Moore of Bella Bella Arts.
“It’s a really inviting, welcoming space,” says Oliver Winery Downtown manager Drew Kincius. “Whether you drop in after work wearing a suit and tie or come by in shorts and a T-shirt, it’s comfortable.”
Oliver Winery Downtown offers not only the winery’s signature libations but also small plates featuring clothbound cheddar and other gourmet cheeses and meats from the Smoking Goose meatery in Indianapolis, including Pig & Fig terrine, Stagberry salami, and smoked duck breast. The tasting room also offers homemade jams and desserts as well as an assortment of olives, pickles, and dried fruits. And, of course, customers can purchase wines by the bottle and case.
Kincius hopes that Oliver Winery Downtown, open until 10 pm on weeknights and 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, will become a destination for people seeking a late-night nibble and glass of wine.
Says Hane, “The downtown location also offers opportunities to partner with other businesses on events and promotions and is a great way for us to become an even stronger part of the community.
“We take pride in being a locally owned company and feel very fortunate for Bloomington’s support,” she adds. “Oliver Winery Downtown is like a big thank you for coming out to see us [at the winery], so now we’re coming to you.”