Art and wine is a combination that’s been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The pairing may not be as direct as food and wine, but these two products of human civilization seem like natural partners. In 500 B.C., the Greek historian Thucydides associated cultivating the vine with emerging from barbarism and more than two thousand years later Ernest Hemingway emphatically agreed: “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world”.
However, despite the close connection, a national business strategy based on the marriage of art and wine has not emerged until recently. Now a Chicago artist and entrepreneur, Stephanie King-Meyers, has combined hands on art instruction with wine tastings to create Bottle and Bottega, a business that is spreading nationwide. This week, a new Bottle and Bottega franchise store opened in Portland, Oregon. Other locations include Denver, Glen Ellyn and LaGrange, Illinois and two storefronts in Chicago.
As is often the case, the inspiration for the business came over a bottle of wine. Stephanie and her husband are both artists who were laid off on the same day in 2009. Soon after the infamous day when the pink slips arrived, a friend of Stephanie’s visited their home while she and her husband were painting. The friend was firm in her conviction that she could not paint, but Stephanie was able to convince her otherwise after a glass or two of vino.
The first time painter was surprised to learn that, under Stephanie’s direction, she could paint a passable canvas with just a few minutes of instruction. Based on this experience, Stephanie says she realized that pairing painting and wine had business potential.
Other similar independent studios that combine painting and wine do exist in other parts of the country. For example, Vino and Van Gogh in Greenville, South Carolina and Picasso and Wine in Windsor, Colorado are art studios that also encourage students to bring a glass to class for fun and to help inspire their creativity. However, Bottle and Bottega is the first business of its kind in Chicago and the Midwest and the first in the U.S. to offer franchise licenses.
At the busiest Bottle and Bottega studio in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, they get up to thirty customers a day. Classes are approximately two-and -one-half hours and the cost is $30-$40.
“I love to paint with a glass of wine, it’s an amazing combo,” Stephanie said. “At the studio classes, wine can help to take down inhibitions about painting for the first time in public.”
“The logo and name are intended to convey that we’re marrying art and wine,” Stephanie related. (A bottega is a place where artists participate on a project under the supervision of another more established artist.)
Stephanie likes a basic Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir when she’s painting. She has not visited any regional wineries yet, but she’s interested in regional wine and how it might relate to her growing business. However, with a nine week old daughter, Stephanie said it might be a little while before she visits a local wine trail.
For more information see: http://bottleandbottega.com/