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Wine is the menu at Vino Anjo.

On Jan. 17 the wine bar Vino Anjo opened to the public in Tomah.

Owner Joline Powell, a native of Green Bay who has lived in Tomah for the past six years, said she has always wanted to own her own business but didn’t know what it would be or when it would happen.

Powell said she was approached to open a wine bar by friends and community members, saying “wouldn’t this be fun?”

“It wasn’t what I initially thought that I would ever do for a business, but it’s something that Tomah really needed ... it needs something that we don’t already have to offer,” she said. “I thought this might be the best marriage of both worlds, between me wanting to have a small business and bringing something to the city that we didn’t already have ... so finally I said ‘ok, I’ll do it.’”

There are a variety of wines available at Vino Anjo, from French and Italian wines to some from Washington state and South Africa, Powell said. The focus of the business is to introduce people to different wines they wouldn’t typically have access to.

“People can come here and have a glass of wine that maybe they wouldn’t have picked up from France because they didn’t know how it tasted,” she said. “I work really close with my distributor on the trends in Tomah, what we might be ready for, what we might not be ready for and go from there.”

The wine selection stays fairly consistent, Powell said, but she does play with a couple of selections here and there and will make changes if something isn’t going over well.

In addition to wine, Vino Anjo also has beer, which will vary month to month, Powell said. She tries to feature a different brewery every two months and showcase a selection of its brews. This month she’s featuring Lakefront Brewery of Milwaukee.

While the wine bar is open, she is making improvements and enhancements, Powell said. Currently construction is under way for private event space, and plans are in place to add a kitchen to serve appetizers, and a wine garden is in the works.

“We have plans to put in a kitchen and then put in a wine garden, and we’d like to see those done early summer,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to that, and I think it will just be a really cool area for people to be able to come and enjoy themselves and meet their friends, maybe meet some strangers, fall in love.”

Powell also plans to host special events at the wine bar.

“Although we don’t have liquor on the menu as a regular nightly item, I hold a full liquor license ... and what I will be doing is being able to have special events surrounding those things, like maybe a blind whiskey tasting night, maybe a cigar and cognac out on the wine garden patio ... and maybe during the summer time out in the wine garden we could have a couple of signature drinks,” she said.

Powell is excited for what the future holds with her business.

“I think that there are going to be a lot of really cool things going on in Tomah this summer, and I think it’s going to be really good not just for me but for all the small businesses downtown and the foot traffic and the new people that are coming into our city,” she said. “I think that’s going to be really exciting, and I think it’s important that we’re mindful of the fact that people need a place to go and they need businesses and all that good stuff.”

So far people have been receptive to the wine bar, Powell said.

“They love the atmosphere, they love coming in here and just being here,” she said. “The bartenders are a great hit ... they’re just wonderful ladies who really have a passion for what we’re trying to do here.”

Patrons have also been receptive to the types of entertainment Powell has brought into Vino Anjo.

“I didn’t know how people would feel about French cafe music or jazz or blues in this area, but it has just been really well received,” she said. “We also have been getting live music in, those nights have been very receptive. I brought in a Gypsy jazz band one night, I brought in a Celtic harpist another night, I brought in a pianist from Sparta who plays jazz standards. Every night has just been busy, it’s been very busy.”

The wine bar is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4-10 p.m. and is located at 800 Superior Ave.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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