Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vinomondo Wine Bar and Brew Pub is a hidden gem in Port Huron!

Written by  Jeff Priskorn
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Vinomondo Wine Bar and Brew Pub is a hidden gem in Port Huron!

Tucked away in an industrial parking lot on the shores of the St. Clair River, Vinomondo Wine Bar and Brew Pub is a hidden gem in Port Huron. The surprisingly opulent tap room certainly reflects Vinomondo’s first priority – there’s a reason the place is called “Vinomondo” and not “Beer-o-mondo”. The beer is in the background here, but it’s certainly not forgotten. Open now for about one year, the Wine Bar and Brew Pub is actually the secondary location of the little Vinomondo empire – the first, also in Port Huron, contains the winery and a gift shop, which sells wine- and beer-making kits.
Wanting to expand the business and hopefully convince some of the more intrepid Port Huronites (Huroners? Huronganders?) to put aside the Bud Light and learn to love locally crafted beer, owners Patrick and Jeanne Healy hired home-brewer Emil Kandhak to begin the brewing operation. Emil brews in very small batches, and Vinomondo would rightly be called a nanobrewery. There are always four beers on tap, rotating quite frequently. Emil invariably has a stout available – Irish, Russian, et. al. – and also brews American light, Kolsch, Weizen, and Canadian Blonde, to name a few. Clever names for the beers are eschewed by Emil, who prefers to simply call each beer by its style, so as to not turn off prospective tipplers with a weird or ill-advised name (Molting Dragon Pale Ale, anyone?).

Sitting as it does right on the waterfront, the ambience is quite calming and pleasant. Clusters of grape lights hang from the ceiling, and the 10-seat bar is of highly polished pecan hardwood. Other tables in the tap room are constructed from old wine barrels. Outdoor patio seating is also available, open to the freshwater breezes. The overall atmosphere is rather quiet and reserved, befitting the wine side of the business.

Beers are listed on a chalkboard, while the wine list contains about a dozen house-made wines. Fruit wines are prevalent here, and made without sulfides, making them sweeter but also giving them a shorter shelf life. Pints are uniformly $5, while the wines vary in price.

The menu is not extensive but contains plenty to snack on. The favorites are the Dirty Martini Turkey Sliders, stuffed with olives and jalapenos, and Johnsonville Baby Beer Brats on a mini bun. Owner Patrick is often on hand to man the grill himself. Dried fruits, cheeses, and crackers are also offered.

On the day we visited, the annual “Float Down” was taking place on the river outside – hundreds of rafts and tubes just floating down the St. Clair, careful, of course, to not tread into the dangerous international waters! We had the opportunity to speak at length with Emil, who was happy to describe his beers and brewing process. Overall, Vinomondo has the definite feel of a wine tasting room, but the beer stands up quite well. Let’s hope that Vinomondo continues to convince the Port Huron faithful of the glories of the craft beer experience.

Jeff Priskorn

Jeff Priskorn

Jeff Priskorn is a guy who didn’t even like beer until he was 25, which isn’t all that surprising given that the family fridge was stocked with Goebel and Carling Black Label during his tender years. Now an elderly young man, he can finally say that Bud Light is swill and is a proud proselyte to the microbrew world and a loud (and sometimes annoying) advocate for Michigan-made beer. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 100+ Michigan microbreweries and brewpubs, and he’s at least 60% there. In addition to drinking and writing about beer, Jeff is a software guy, actor, voice artist, and musician. Check him out at JeffPriskorn.com, come see his band Mad Rabbit (Michigan’s Live Jukebox™) at a bar near you, and sample his fledgling beer blog at phruityonbeer.blogspot.com.