gmhTODAY 06 gmhToday Jan Feb 2016 - Page 96

THE VINE Sharing Good Times and Good Wine By Kyle Fanthorpe A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover. - Clifton Fadiman C lifton Fadiman was a well-known intellectual who achieved success in letters, radio, and television. Fadiman describes wine as something that begs to be shared. Wine is an accessory to many everyday rituals including relaxation after a hard day, as a meal pairing, and just about any other pretense. It also marks celebratory occasions such as Champagne at a wedding. He also suggests that wine and enthusiasm for its consumption creates the effect of community among its devotees. Wine, though happily enjoyed alone, takes on a new life when shared. It becomes a sort of social custom with the same agency of the intended effect, a means as well as an ends. There are a number of exciting new stores and eateries pumping life back into downtown Gilroy but one business among them stands out. Bella Viva Wine Bar, right across the street from Old City Hall, appeared seemingly out of thin air and has rapidly become the “Cheers” of downtown. Kellen McBain opened Bella Viva Wine Bar in 2013, creating a new customer experience for locals to explore and expand their wine palates in a welcoming, comfort- able environment. An avid host himself, Kellen has called Bella Viva an extension of his own home, where patrons can relax with a glass of wine or craft beer. The bar itself is styled after a Mediterranean get- away featuring a beautiful emerald granite bar and Kawai baby grand piano played by a musician on Wednesdays through Saturdays, giving the bar an old world charm. Before Kellen decided to try his hand in the wine business he worked at Stanford University as an Epidemiologist for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Kellen and his wife took an 96 interest in Santa Clara Valley wine on a wine tasting tour. Kellen was impressed by the increase in quality year by year of SCV wine culture. This experience seems to have sparked a passion. Fast-forwarding to the present, and Bella Viva has become a breakout success story for downtown Gilroy. Starting in phases, Bella Viva began serving wine and beer exclusively. This allowed Kellen to refine his wine and beer list, discovering new and obscure producers who were crafting first- class vintages and brews. As a result of this process Bella Viva offers high-quality wine and beer at value prices. Kellen believes strongly in finding value for his customers so they can enjoy the best wines and beers on the market without handing over their first-borns. As a next step, the bar formed a partner- ship with Garlic City Café, which offers multi-regional Italian cuisine. Bella Viva patrons can order from Garlic City’s menu and have their food delivered to the bar. In addition, Bella Viva has hosted “pop-up” food services internally at various events. The future plan is open up a full Italian deli with hot paninis, pastas, salads, pastries, a diverse selection of cheeses and charcuterie. Kellen has also implemented a wine club program that includes special wine club pricing for over 3,000 wineries as well as a 10% percent discount on all Bella Viva purchases. The wine shipments are individualized for each member’s palate. Bella Viva provides a complimentary bottle of prosecco on members’ birthdays as well as invitations to member-exclusive events. Bella Viva also hosts a number of other events such as Paint Nites, Champagne GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 Brunches, and wine-tasting classes. Their Facebook page is the best place to keep updated on event dates. Kellen hopes to continue expanding the services offered at Bella Viva, including international Tasting Tours. His vision is to create wine travel itineraries for European wine destinations such as Bordeaux and Burgundy in France as well as Piemonte and Tuscany in Italy. As someone who has done a bit of wine tour- ism, I’ve found that there isn’t a better way to get to know a wine region than seeing it firsthand. There’s something almost magical about seeing the vineyards, smelling the air, and touching the soil of your favorite producers. It’s an oenophile experience like no other. Bella Viva Wine Bar is a special place and, as someone who came of age in Gilroy, I cannot convey enough the importance of quality businesses like this one to the community. It’s a place where no one is a stranger. I’ve described the sense one gets as they step inside as walking into a piece of fiction and in an odd way it’s as though Bella Viva has always been part of Gilroy. I believe it has the potential to be a part of the community for a long time to come. Santa Clara Valley has the potential to become a wine destination to rival any other in California, but it’s the community that needs to support local businesses so Gilroy can continue to thrive. So I encourage you to go out, tonight even, have dinner somewhere and drinks somewhere else. Tip well and have fun. Life is too short not to enjoy yourselves. To echo the sentiment of the Fadiman quote, order the bo