For anyone who's been to The Wooden Vine, it's hard not to notice the unique furniture and décor. Everything is inspired or made from wood. But what you might not know is that owner Karin Glenski is also the designer, and her brother and his wife (Ricky and Nia LaBonte) made the furniture. Located in Uptown, The Wooden Vine opened at the end of 2009. This is Glenski's first restaurant, and she's already got multiple regulars. Glenski's passions are wood, wine and design, and with The Wooden Vine, she was lucky enough to blend all three into a successful restaurant.
Creative Loafing: Why did you decide to open a wine place in Charlotte?
Karin Glenski: I'm originally from New York (the Hyde park area). I moved here 15 to 16 years ago and now I live in Lake Norman. I came up with The Wooden Vine through my love of wine and wood ... and I'm a designer. I love designing. Plus, now that my kids are older, I thought, I can open up a wine room! And Ricky and Nia create funky pieces of furniture, cheese boards, etc. So from there we got The Wooden Vine. The reason we called it The Wooden Vine was because of a piece of wood I found. It was sitting on its side in the shape of the letter V — just lying next to the garage. So we shaved it, and put one V inside and one V outside of The Wooden Vine.
What's your favorite wine?
Opus One, 2005. It's just such a silky, smooth, rich ... it was just like, oh my gosh! Plus, I had read how Baron Philippe De Rothschild and Robert Mondavi got together. They created Opus One, in France I believe. Well, they didn't know what to put on the label and couldn't put a dollar amount on the wine. It's the mystique of the bottle. It's like all of the wine history of Mondavi and Rothschild is Opus One.
If you hadn't gone into the wine business, what would you have done instead?
I'd have been a designer. I love designing. The first time people come to my house, they say, "You need to be in the Homerama." I'd love to go to the Homerama. I even did my bathrooms to a T. I didn't leave anything untouched. There's one wall at The Wooden Vine that's made from reclaimed barn pieces. They date back to 1808 and come from the North Carolina mountains. I mixed the barn fragments with scenic wallpaper; that way, it seems as if you're looking outside onto a vineyard. There are also grapevines under the shelves. My dad called and mentioned them and I flew up there, cut the vines, and now they're here. This is my first restaurant, and I'm just blessed. I have great regulars.