Entertaining family or friends this summer? Want to add a special taste to your gathering? Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or elegant wedding reception, Curt and Leslie Kosal, owners of Vine & Brew, invite you to stop by their shop in Okemos to sample their large selection of wine and craft beer that will fit any occasion. Curt draws on his 15 years of experience selling wine and beer at Goodrich’s Shop Rite in East Lansing to help stock the shelves of Vine & Brew, which the couple opened in the spring of 2012 with distinctive wine and micro brewed beer that can suit any palette or cuisine. The wine collection starts with Michigan-made wine and “goes round the world,” said Leslie. Sitting alongside wine from the vineyards of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and more you’ll find wine made closer to home. Regardless of where it’s made, it will accent any course — from snacks or dessert. The micro brews they sell are among the most popular made throughout Michigan and beyond. You’ll find Arcadia, Shorts, Founders, Bells and other major Michigan micro brews and many crafted throughout the US. “We stock items that aren’t mass produced,” said Leslie. They’re made by local brewers and vintners, she explained. Leslie works full-time for a local software company but “I get to play part-time,” she said of helping out in the shop on Saturdays. If you’re not sure what beverage to choose, Leslie and Curt host a wine/beer tasting every Saturday. If more than one drink suits your style, you can mix and match a six pack of beer or four pack of wine. If you buy a bag from Vine & Brew, you get 7 percent off the cost. And if you can’t find what you want on the shelves of Vine & Brew, Curt and Leslie will help you locate what you’re looking for. The basic rule of thumb in selecting a beverage is to find a wine or beer that provides “harmony” to the food you’re serving, said Curt. “You don’t want the food to overwhelm the drink or the drink to overwhelm the food,” he explained. Other than that, there are no hard and fast rules in selecting a fine wine. Just go with what taste you enjoy and you can’t go wrong, he said. Vine & Brew also carries an interesting variety of locally-produced specialty snacks. “People like to buy local products,” said Leslie. “The food section offers unusual snacks from local family-owned businesses,” she explained. “We’ll gradually add more items as we go, including Michigan ciders made in Traverse City.” Vine & Brew’s selection of wine, beer and food also make great gifts. Leslie has filled several orders for gift baskets to send for holidays, weddings and other special occasions. When they decided to open up a wine and beer shop in the greater Lansing area, they knew they wanted it to be the kind of place where they would like to shop. Their goal was to provide good wine, good beer, good food at a good value. “We offer a lot of good wine and beer at different price points,” Curt said. Being your own boss comes with many benefits. The one that both Curt and Leslie enjoy is interacting directly with the customer. “We get immediate feedback,” Curt said. “We hear what the customer likes or doesn’t like, and we’re able to do something about it right away.” Their customer-focused approach has won them loyal customers from the greater Lansing area and beyond. Even though the majority of their patrons are local, some regulars come from as far as Ann Arbor and Detroit. Word of mouth and social media helps spread the word that Vine & Brew is the place to find just the right flavor for your next social gathering. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and closed Sundays. Find them on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website at www.vineandbrew.com.
Ann Cool, MPS, is a freelance writer who lives in Mason with her husband Bob.