New Stained Glass self-service wine bar draws inspiration from military strength and West Bank pride | Where NOLA eats
The wine selection is entirely in your hands at Stained Glass Wine House, where a bank of self-service wine distributors forms the heart of the operation. You could go from an Austrian riesling to a Portuguese rosé to a Californian cabernet.
However, it seems that no aspect of this new wine bar has been left to chance. It starts with its location.
Stained Glass Wine House is stylish, contemporary and is located in downtown Gretna. This is because its founders have roots in the West Bank and set out to create social appeal in their part of the community.
Much of the close synchronicity of the place can be attributed to military power.
The new business was started by Rick Davis, his wife, Tasha Davis, and their friends, Kyle Gregore and Gary Lipkos. All are Louisiana Air National Guard master sergeants, and their day jobs are to work in military engineer squadrons.
They built their plan for the wine bar around identifying a need and devising ways to meet it with consistency and sustainability.
This shot may seem as dry as a Chianti. But in practice, what they have created is a lively, fun and relaxed space to taste many different wines and relax in a unique setting.
“We are all enlisted – we are the working class of the military,” Gregore said of his partner group. “We wanted to build a place where everyone feels welcome. Our focus here is high end but not pretentious.
A high level of nuanced detail is worked on throughout the operation. But one striking element is on display throughout the space – an art collection by Josh Wingerter, who became a street art hero for his work during the initial lockdowns of the pandemic.
Wingerter developed his gallery a bit upstream at Westwego, and having the connection to the West Bank through art was key for Stained Glass partners.
“Growing up in the West Bank, you always heard people put him down. We want to change this so that people say ‘Have you seen what is in the West Bank now?’ Gregore said.
Self-serve systems have been in use for years in some local locations, including the downtown WINO wine bar and tabletop beer taps at Sports Bistreaux stores in Walk-On.
To start a visit to Stained Glass, you essentially open a tab at the counter and receive a card that tracks your purchases. It also tracks how much you’ve consumed and cuts past a certain number of ounces, which varies depending on the type of alcohol. This incorporates a security measure for a responsible service. If you hit the limit and want more, the staff can assess and place the call, just like a bartender would.
Dispensers are stocked with 24 different bottles of wine, and displays show information about the wine, grape or blend. Insert your card and choose your wine, ordering a pour of one ounce, half a glass or a full glass.
“You can get this breadth of knowledge by sampling across the range, without committing to an entire bottle or even a whole glass,” Tasha Davis said.
There is also more than wine. Across the room is a bank of taps for beer, seltzer water, and a cocktail made with local Happy Raptor rum. Another distributor pours four different premium spirits. All are coordinated by the same card system.
On a recent Wednesday, people started to walk in shortly after the doors opened for the afternoon, arriving in couples and small groups of friends, including a young mom and dad who parked their baby in her stroller at a table outside as they took turns looking for more wine.
Without a central bar, the tables and sofas around the room become small poles of activity. At wine distributors, people share tips from their past pours.
Partners learn more about wine as they go. But they knew they wanted distinctive wines from small producers, so they teamed up with local distributor Bizou Wines for their selection.
This changing lineup ranges from crispy txakolina from the Basque country to the velvety smoothness of pinot noir from Oregon to sparkling Alsatian crémant (which, like all other sparkling wines here, is served by the bottle rather than the dispenser).
For snacks, there are pre-made charcuterie boards from local supplier Tusks and dessert boxes from Magic Oven bakery.
Davis jokes that these are their “Lunchables for Adults”.
There is no kitchen, and anyway, it’s not about being a restaurant but increasing the neighborhood food scene. It’s a place to come before or after dinner, or maybe for a soccer game.
Gregore points out that a partition wall for taps other than wine has been built low so you can always keep an eye on the game when you get up to pour yourself another beer.
“There’s just something satisfying about pouring your own beer,” he said, while graciously showing how it’s done.
House of Wine stained glass
201 Huey P. Long Avenue, (504) 500-9335
Wed, Thu 4 pm-9pm, Fri 4 pm-11pm, Sat noon-11 pm, Sun noon-4 pm (subject to Saints’ playing times)
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