When the popular Barossa restaurant closed last year, many Milwaukeeans wondered what the co-owner, entrepreneurial pioneer Deanne Wecker, would offer the city next. Turns out, Wecker's new project is a premier wine shop in Bay View, called Dee’s Wine Stop, 2327 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
“My philosophy for the store is that wine is suppose to be fun, not stuffy, no matter how much you spend on a bottle,” she says.
Wecker also owns Lee’s Luxury Lounge, 2988 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
“Julia LaLoggia (current owner of Redroom and Stonefly Brewery) was my business partner at Barossa and Lee's Luxury Lounge until last summer. Now I have Lee's and Dee's all by myself,” says Wecker.
Recently, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with Wecker to hear more about Dee’s Wine Stop, which officially opened on Feb. 22.
OnMilwaukee.com: What kinds of wine do you offer?
Deanne Wecker: I offer wines from the around the world with a large selection priced $10.99 and under. A lot of people think that I might focus on Australian wines because of Barossa (which is a wine growing region in Australia), but my selection is really all over the world.
I have wine accessories, gift bags and Riedel glassware. I also offer domestic and imported micros brews, but have decided to keep some Pabst on hand just in case.
Very soon I will add fine chocolates, cheese, gourmet crackers, tapanades and maybe even a small selection of flowers. This spring I will begin to offer wine tastings and classes.
OMC: Why did you choose Bay View to open the shop?
DW: Bay View seemed to me like the most logical place to open a wine store because I have lived here for years so I know the area, and there has been so much progress in the last four years. The time is definitely right for Bay View's first wine store.
OMC: How is Dee’s Wine Stop unique?
DW: I'm keeping it fun and I'm making it about the neighborhood. I've been taking Polaroid pictures of customers with the bottle of wine they purchase and using those photos as my point of sale. On the picture I tell what street the purchaser lives on and why they chose that particular wine. It's really fun, which goes with my philosophy for the store: Wine is supposed to be fun, not stuffy no matter how much you spend on a bottle. If you pay $80 for a bottle of wine, you're probably buying it for a fun special occasion or a great meal. The same goes for a $10 bottle of wine. You're taking it home to have a nice time and / or a good meal.
OMC: What is the price range of your wines?
DW: My wines range in price from $7.99 to $74.99, but I am adding some more high-end wines from California and Bordeaux within the next couple of weeks. I had to start with what I was familiar with from being in the restaurant business and see what the retail market demands here in Bay View. I appreciate all the suggestions I've gotten from my patrons so far, and I think they will enjoy asking for something and seeing it in the store in a few days or the following week.
OMC: What are some of the best deals in your shop right now?
DW: The wines I carry that are the best quality for the price are the malbecs from Argentina. Most of these wines are priced under $20, but drink like they're over $20. They are very versatile because some of them are guzzlers -- meaning wines you just sit and drink without food -- and some go great with grilled meat, chocolate or whatever you're having.
OMC: So, what do you think of Two Buck Chuck? (Trader Joe’s popular, low-end wine that retails for $2.99 a bottle.)
DW: It's a good wine for beginners. It's like marijuana. It's a gateway wine. You start with Two Buck Chuck and before long, you could be getting your $1,000 a week Bordeaux fix on. Nothing wrong with that. Especially if Dee's Wine Stop is your dealer.
OMC: Have you ever made your own wine?
DW: No, I think you have to have a little bit of a scientist in you to brew your own beer or make your wine. I always sucked at science.
OMC: What’s the “Guzzler of the Month?”
DW: Each month I'm featuring a "Guzzler of the Month" which is a fun, easy, drinking wine at a really nice price. Right now, the featured guzzler is a Grenache from Spain called "Fuego" for $7.99 and it's on fire.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.