A new wine shop was uncorked in downtown Tosa in mid-November and it's a franchise that takes a different approach to selling wine. Rather than trying to carry everything, Vino 100 sells what it calls "100 great wines for $25 or less."
John Schall Jr. and Mark Schraith -- two Shorewood police officers -- have opened the area's first Vino 100 franchise at 1442 Underwood Ave. in Wauwatosa village. The shop shares an 1899 Cream City brick post office building with the Underwood Gallery.
"We were both looking for a business to open and we came across this," says Schraith. "John's really into wine; he makes his own wine. And I'm learning fast."
The shop is clearly arranged to simply the wine-buying process. The bright space is wide open, with a few tables in the center, a tasting bar along the back wall and wines arranged in cubby holes along both walls; reds on the left, whites on the right.
Identification tags not only name the wines and list pertinent details like country of origin and vintage, but also have a simplified scale describing the wine's sweetness or dryness.
"It's designed to make it real easy to figure out what kind of wine to buy," says Schraith. "We don't have a huge selection; we have a reasonable selection. And the cards are designed to help you pick your flavor. The wines are arranged by flavor rather than region or by varietal."
A selection of wines is available for tasting at all times, Schraith says, and there are usually two whites and two reds available for sale by the glass at about $6-$10.
Schraith says that the Vino 100 franchise offers advice, but he and his partner are free to choose the shop's wines, all of which are purchased from local distributors.
"They helped us. They have a list and they suggest wines. John picked out a lot of them, but someone from the franchise helped with the initial selection. It's up to us primarily as long as we pick great wines."
Schraith's current favorite? A much-ballyhooed upstart wine from Piedmont, Italy.
"My favorite is this Viberti nebbiolo, which is very good," he says. "It's real dry; basically it's a Barolo (without the official designation. It is a nebbiolo produced in the town of Barolo, however)."
The shop also carries cigars, gifts, microbrew beers, olives and oils and plans to add a selection of cheeses soon. Since it lacks a restaurant license, Vino 100 will only sell packaged food for now.
Call Vino 100 at (414) 456-9463. The Web site is vino100-tosa.com.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.