It’s not every day that a 7-year-old bar is reviewed, but when it’s undergone a resurrection, it deserves a second look. The adorably quaint WineHaus, nestled just a couple of blocks off bustling West Magnolia Avenue on the Near Southside, has always had a loyal following of neighborhood regulars, ever since it briefly closed in August 2020 and then reopened again under new ownership, it’s like the city is discovering it for the first time. A recent visit to Haus Jazz Night proved the recognition was long overdue.
Owner Robyn Davis, a former Alcon executive and frequent WineHaus customer, jumped in to save the bar after it fell victim to the pandemic shutdown, and she officially took over in November. Davis immediately dived into the revamp, working closely with longtime bar manager Monica Wright to spread the word that WineHaus was back, hosting weekly themed wine tastings and an occasional pop-up brunch to drum up interest. The pandemic naturally delayed the start of some of her bigger plans, but, four months into the new year, WineHaus has gotten its groove back and then some.
Upon walking through the brand-new Tiffany blue gate that separates WineHaus’ secret gardenlike patio from the expansive back parking lot on a recent Friday, we were met with a lively yet muted atmosphere. Twinkle lights strung on the fence combined with the smooth sounds of the jazz quartet to give the space a decidedly dreamy vibe. Nearly all the tables were filled up with couples or groups either admiring the band or having hushed conversations. After perusing the shelves of the bar’s modest but varied selection of wines by the bottle, my date and I picked a $21 bottle of rosé from Chinon, a village in the Loire Valley of France, and settled in at a cafe table outside. Although the weather was mild, Davis has prepared for the impending Texas heat by installing fans onto the pergola that shades most of the patio.
For those who may be on the fence about jazz, I am with you. Thankfully, this was not the frenetic, Whiplashesque jazz that, frankly, gives me a headache. And it helps that the musicians are the real deal. Davis’ brother, local musician and booker Reese Pierce, conceived of the idea of Friday night jazz and quickly enlisted the talents of the Tim Bauckman Band — Tim Bauckman on guitar, Mike Luzecky on upright bass, Alex Souris on drums, and a rotating selection of guest sax players, all students from the prestigious UNT Division of Jazz Studies — to form the unofficial Haus band. Looking around at the full crowd as they alternated riffing solos on the newly constructed outdoor stage (they move inside for inclement weather), it was clear that jazz and wine are a winning combination.
As I watched a couple take a selfie in front of the infinitely Instagrammable 240-square-foot impressionist-style mural painted by Wright, an accomplished Fort Worth artist in her own right, I contemplated what sounded good for dinner. WineHaus offers a menu of personal pizzas and other small plates made especially for the bar by next-door neighbor Chadra Mezza, as well as “grazing boards” (charcuterie, cheese, fruit, and other goodies) made in-haus by Sage and Board Grazing. We went with Chadra’s Victoria pizza, topped with bacon, ground Italian sausage, and fresh tomato and onion. It paired perfectly with our ros, though it just as easily could have been washed down with one of the Haus’ Italian reds, like the Montelvini Sangiovese, which is available on tap.
Not only was WineHaus one of the first true wine bars in the city when it opened back in 2013, it was also the first to serve wine on tap and is still one of the only wine bars in town to do so. Sustainability-minded individuals will appreciate the reduced carbon footprint associated with wine on tap, while oenophiles can appreciate that every glass of wine served from one of WineHaus’ kegs is as fresh as a just-opened bottle. Tap wines are available by the glass, but the real deal lies in the refillable growlers, which are specially priced during Jazz Night and amount to four glasses of wine for the price of three after you purchase the growler itself.
In just a few months, Davis and Wright have taken an already good but oft-overlooked bar and turned it into a top destination for Fort Worth wine aficionados. To complete the transformation, they will host an overdue grand (re)opening weekend celebration, A Taste of WineHaus, from Friday, May 14, through Sunday, May 16, featuring wine specials, culinary pop-ups, local art, raffles, and, of course, jazz. Visit WineHausFW.com for more information.