Jamie's Wine Bar
Built in 1932 as a gift for his wife by Wrigley gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., historic Wrigley Mansion has long been an iconic Phoenix landmark. Purchased by the Hormel family in 1992, this storied property invites guests to dine and explore its rich history. From its perch high on a hill, it offers one of the most stunning panoramic views of Phoenix, and now there’s a new facet to its allure - Jamie’s Wine Bar, named after owner Jamie Hormel. Michael Vincent, nephew of namesake Jamie, had a vision and now a cozy formal study has been reborn into an intimate 26-seat wine oasis framed by original mahogany woodwork with sparkling chandelier centerpieces, a marble bar, and white leather chairs. Attention to detail abounds, such as exceptionally comfortable bar stools, outlets under banquettes and the bar for phone charging, and accents of vibrant peacock blue, Jamie’s favorite color. Guests can dine on Executive Chef Jason Diaz' dishes ordered from adjacent Geordie’s Steak restaurant, or graze on a bar menu with options from crispy calamari to burgers and sliders; from caviar and blinis to cheese and charcuterie.
Michael grew up in Connecticut and spent time working in the bar and nightclub scene, but he is quick to emphasize that beloved mentors have guided him on his oenophile path. “I want to give a special thank-you to my Aunt Jamie for giving me this opportunity to create my own dream wine bar,” he tells me, "and to Christopher Gross who helped me get on the right path. He's been there throughout the whole journey, from when I knew nothing, to passing my level one somm [Sommelier certification] and my CSW [Certified Specialist of Wine].”
That journey entailed passion and dedication. “I just fell in love with wine. I would study 10 hours a day,” he says. Travel also plays an integral part in his education. “Everyone has had their 'wine moment' and mine was in Tuscany at a winery where I tried a Brunello di Montalcino. After I tried that wine, I just had this newfound appreciation. Traveling to other regions in Italy - Venice, Rome - there is so much wine and wine history and that's what sparked my interest and where I started studying." Further global exploration has included wineries in Napa Valley, France, the Republic of Georgia, Greece and Instanbul, "where I tried some fantastic Turkish wines; all those places have absolutely have had an impact on me." "Jamie and Christopher created my passion," he continues. "We’ve traveled together and we've had a lot of amazing meals and wine experiences. This wouldn’t exist if it wasn't for them.”
I had a chance to sit down with this enthusiastic young wine specialist and learn more about how his dream came to fruition.
Tell me about your vision for Jamie’s Wine Bar. Being able to start with an empty space from the beginning has been really satisfying. I had a vision of how I wanted it to look but it seemed daunting; where do we start? I had a really good team behind me. I had an interior designer, Wendy Black, who helped me put my vision into place. Don Plato, the builder, was awesome. He was really helpful, walking me step-by-step through the building process. And the architect, Jon Poetzel, was a huge help in the designing process. Between us, we made this thing happen and I was just ecstatic when I saw the finished product. This was exactly how I envisioned it, so that was a really good feeling. It all just kind of came together. I wanted vintage Wrigley with a modern twist on it.
What was your goal with opening a wine bar? I wanted something different. I spent a lot of time in San Francisco, and I was in Bordeaux and Paris this past summer. I had such a good time at a lot of the wine bars, and I didn't feel like we had anything quite like what they had out there. I wanted a cozy lounge-like place where someone could immerse themselves in a glass of wine and relax and have a good time. I don't consider us a serious wine bar, although, if you do consider yourself a serious wine drinker, there is something for you. Our motto is 'something for everybody’ and we have over 800 wines by the bottle, 25 wines by the glass, and also offer flights. Something else that is cool is that you can create your own flight. They’re priced by the ounce so if you want to try a lot of different wines and a lot of different styles, you can do that here.
Tell me about your wines. I try to have wines from everywhere. For example, I have a traditional buttery Chardonnay because that’s popular, but I’ll also have an unoaked Chardonnay and a French white burgundy. I love when people order a glass of wine or I’ll give them a taste, and they can see how the same grape from different parts of the world can be so different in winemaking styles. One of my favorite wines is a Malbec from Argentina that's called Felino; probably my best selling glass. It tastes like red berries, blackberries, with a little spice and a medium-plus body. It's really, really nice. I also have a Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend from Languedoc in Southern France by Gerard Bertrand. I think that's one of the most underrated regions in the world and if you find the right producer, you can be rewarded very well. I have a really unique wine from Oregon that’s a Pinot Noir Blanc. I have an eight-bottle Wine Emotion machine preservation system with premium wines like Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz,Turley Juvenile Zinfandel, and ZD Cabernet by the glass which I'll have until they sell out. Those are some of my favorites. For all the wines, I offer a 5 or 3-ounce pour or a 1-ounce taste.
I know that the Wrigley Mansion is zoned as a private club but you have inexpensive memberships. Yes. A lot of people think we’re an expensive exclusive private club but, really, it's just $5 per group. We also have a Social Membership that's $20 a year per household with complimentary valet. Valet is $10 so you make your money back pretty quickly. With the Wine Membership, it’s $75 a year per household and, again, only one person in your group needs it. You're getting 25% off any of the 800 wines by the bottle and 15% off premium wines from my Wine Emotion machine. We also have monthly Wine Membership Appreciation with complimentary hors d'oeuvres and a glass of wine.
Can you tell me about the menu? We recently rolled out a new menu. We added a calamari to the list that comes with a sweet and spicy chili-garlic sauce and that's been a huge hit. And we have something really interesting. As you know, Hormel now owns the Wrigley and I've been saying we should have a spam option. Chef Jason came up with this unbelievable mini-Hormel Spam Cubano with pulled pork, smoked Gouda, chipotle mayo and pickles on torta bread and served with house chips in a little Spam container. It is awesome. It's a signature dish, it's delicious and it represents the Hormels. It's half-price at happy hour.
You have a great happy hour. We have one of the best happy hours. I've been to a lot of restaurants of this caliber in town, and some of them have select wines on happy hour, and some don't even have happy hour. We have appetizers that are half off. We have 50% off all our regular glasses of wine, 25% off our premium selection and 15% off our flights of wine during happy hour. All the regular wines by the glass are high-quality wines, so you’re paying $9 for a glass of champagne that's $18. You're drinking great wines for $6 to $9. And I have really good Jamie's milk chocolates as a bonus.
What’s your favorite part about working here? I like interacting with all the guests. I meet so many great people on every shift and it's just really fun. You never know where that connection will take you. I think that's what I look forward to the most - my conversations with people. When we first opened, it was mostly tourists, but we're starting to get more locals, especially people that work in the Biltmore area. I would love for locals to come check us out.
Anything else you would like people to know? We really have a one-of-a-kind, unique location. I want people to feel like this is a spot they can frequent regularly. It’s not just for special occasions. It’s a great date place, it’s a spot for locals. You're more than welcome to order a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a beer and walk around the mansion. Here, you have the view, you have the greatest sunset in town for the most part, you have this intimate cozy wine bar, and you have this historic mansion. It's memorable.
Jamie's Wine Bar is located inside the Wrigley Mansion at 2501 E Telawa Trail, Phoenix, AZ 85016 and is open Tuesday through Saturday. Happy Hour is 3-6 Tuesday and all day Wednesday, and the wine bar is also available for private events. Keep up to date by following them on Facebook and Instagram. Sign up for a Wine Membership to join complimentary summer events to be held on Thursday, April 13th, May 11th and June 8th at 5:00 p.m.