For years Patti Mehm and her husband Bob -- owners of the Towne Store on Maine Street -- have had a fascination with wine making. Not just any wine, but wines from New York state. During the summer season they would always pick up a bottle or two of NY wine from the Schroon Farmer’s Market.
Last year their investigation into wine-making lead them on a tour of wine makers in the Finger Lakes, as well as wineries close by, referred to by some as the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail.
During that journey they met with vintners, got hands on harvesting and crushing grapes and made wine, Patti told Schroon Laker.
“The whole process was an eye opening learning experience. We got the wine making bug. At one stage Bob thought we could grow grapes here in Schroon,” Patti said. “Maybe even behind the Town Store,” she recalled with a giggle.
After their winery adventures, the couple realized that making wine might take up just a little more time than they had bargained for. So the next step seemed almost too logical: why not promote and sell New York state wines instead, without having to crush the grapes?
So was born their new venture, Vine and Barley, Tasting Room and Tavern, which will be nestled inside the Towne Store on the second floor. The tavern will feature New York state wines, New York hand crafted beers, as well as some wines from a certain famous area on the west coast. Gourmet light fare will also be served.
Late last year the couple embarked on a series of New York wine tastings, with locals and second home owners here in Schroon. Some were great, some not so.
To find what food would fit their wines the couple visited several wine bars in New York City, where they tasted various charcuterie platters. Fast forward a few months – and one fire – and the couple are on track for a mid-June opening.
The ambience, says Patti, will be “very casual and accessible.”
“We will be selling wines by the glass or tastings or flights of wine. For the non-wine drinkers in your group we will have craft brewed beer.”
Under the special license they are in the process of securing from New York State, they will only be permitted to sell wine or beer by the glass.
“Once you taste a wine or beer you like we will have all the information about where it’s from in New York and how you can get it.”
Patti says the wine selection will change day to day, with between 9 to 12 wines available for tasting.
To begin with the tavern will serve three hand crafted beers, and there’s no guessing which will take front and center: ale from Schroon’s own Paradox Brewery.
“We have spoken with Paul and Joan (the breweries founders) and they plan on having a specialty beer for the tavern. Eventually, as the tavern business grows, Patti says she’s like to utilize a pump system and offer more beers.
For the menu, Patti is already working with local purveyors, including Juniper Farms, who supply more than 30 area gourmet stores and restaurants.
“Our goal is to have light fare with a local favor, using local products to keep it local.”
Patti says the menu will feature soups and gourmet paninis, as well as charcuterie, (smoked meat and cheese platters).
The tavern -- in the space once which once housed the Town Store’s Art gallery -- will have seating for 48. All of the furniture will be made out of recycled wine barrels. Patti says she expects the tavern to be open from around 12pm to 8pm each day.
“We want this place to be special, for locals, second home owners and people on vacation to pop in and have a glass and then head off and have dinner at one of our fine, local restaurants.” said Patti.