I’ve been a wine lover for the better part of my life so when I moved to Phoenix from Cleveland, Ohio 17 years ago, I was in search of that perfect wine bar, where I could peacefully explore exceptional and regional choices of beautiful wines.
I bought my home in Ahwatukee but didn’t know the lay of the land, nor any people. Technology wasn’t as easy as it is now to find your local spot at the click of a button back then. I became friends with a woman who told me on several occasions that she had either just gotten back from My Wine Cellar, or that she had a meeting next to My Wine Cellar. Finally, I asked, “Where is your wine cellar?” I felt quite foolish to learn this was an actual wine lounge. However, I quickly learned that this “cellar,” although didn’t specifically belong to my friend, did in a sense belong to the wine lovers in the community.
My Wine Cellar has been a staple on Warner Road (just off Interstate 10) in Ahwatukee for over a decade, but now under new ownership the subtle changes seem to enhance its already intimate vibe. Shannon Rush bought the restaurant in October 2016. Rush moved from South East Asia to Philadelphia at 17, where she submerged herself into the food and wine industry. Philadelphia is quite the foodie town and has received high marks from Travel & Leisure magazine regarding the new generation of young chefs. She knew this was a fabulous place to gain restaurant experience and high-quality service skills.
Rush moved to Arizona six years ago, and began working at House of Tricks in Tempe, which has been awarded more than 20 Best of Phoenix awards by the New Times, as well as the “Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.”
She soon became a regular at My Wine Cellar, fell in love with the place, and finally enjoyed working there for three years. She positioned herself in all the right spots, which helped her discover what people want in a wine scene and dining experience.
“I think it was always my plan to buy My Wine Cellar,” Rush said. “It needed to stay with someone who already cared about it and wanted to take it to the next level. I feel like I am set up for success.”
My Wine Cellar has a loyal following who seem just as passionate about its future as the owner and staff. The local neighborhood restaurant is a place where people can feel comfortable coming alone, on a date, or with a group.
“I want people in Ahwatukee to know they will receive top-quality service, food and wine in a homelike environment. We have plans of enhancing the patio with heaters and misters so that we can use it yearlong. The golf course is an asset, but it can be so much more,” said Rush, adding that there are some changes to the menu to include more wine centric options and small plates.
“Our customers expressed extreme interest in bringing back our wine classes; we listened and they are back in full swing. Wine 101, featuring Sommelier Darla Hoffmann, quickly sold out for January and is selling out fast for February (next one is Feb. 27). The next class will be ‘The Wines of Washington & Oregon,’ scheduled for Monday, March 13 at 6 p.m. We are already taking reservations for that class. We will be scheduling themed classes such as ‘Bordeaux Blends,’ ‘Wines from Down Under,’ Italian Varietals, etc. as well as more Wine 101 and possibly 202 throughout the year,” Rush said.
She welcomes your opinions in deciding which classes to host at My Wine Cellar. You can sign up to receive emails on their website and Facebook page. The classes are designed to be non-intimidating and a fun way to explore your palate. Call 480-598-9463 to reserve your spot, as limited space is available.
“We always have something fun going on here. Besides our wonderful classes, we have weekly live music, monthly wine tastings, various wine festivals and winemaker dinners on our calendar throughout the year. We are open to any new suggestions as well,” Rush said. “Additionally, the Wine Club gives you a chance to try different wines at a discounted price. It is such a welcoming club; the members are down to earth wine lovers that share each other’s enthusiasm for learning and tasting wine. Being part of the club gives you a sense of belonging to your very own little ‘wine circle.’”
I still chuckle to myself when I think that conversation with my friend many years ago, and my initial discovery of My Wine Cellar. It is extra special to me to have the opportunity to teach the wonders of wine at the very place that was such a wonder to me. If you are not already a regular at My Wine Cellar, I truly hope that you will stop in, and experience Ahwatukee’s wine hub for yourself.
My Wine Cellar is located at 5030 E. Warner Road. Hours of operation are 3-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3-11 p.m. Fridays, and noon-11 p.m. Saturdays. Wine 101 classes are $75 for all three classes on consecutive Mondays. The cost of themed classes is $35 for one class also on Mondays at 6 p.m.
Check out the website at www.mywinecellarphx.com to learn about the wine club and upcoming classes and events.
– East Valley resident Darla Hoffmann is a certified specialist of wine and sommelier. She is the owner of About Wine, a wine education company, where she does on-site tastings and classes at restaurants, home parties and corporate events. She also works part time in one of Arizona’s award-winning tasting rooms, LDV Wine Gallery in Scottsdale. A member of The Wine Century Club, she has tasted over 100 grape varietals. Her goal is to share her knowledge and passion for wine, while educating our readers on the booming wine industry in the state of Arizona. If you are a wine collector looking for tastings and storage in the Valley, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at: www.aboutwineinaz.com.