Corking Her Career

From the Vine owner wants to put wine bar in new hands

Marie Anthony, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Kathy Nuenke at from the vine wine room in Eau Claire.
Kathy Nuenke at from the vine wine room in Eau Claire.

Over the past six years, From The Vine has become so much more than a wine bar: It’s become a part of customers’ lives. FTV will always have a special place in my heart – not because it was the place that sparked my love of sweet reds, but because it’s the place where one of the most important journeys of my life began. FTV is where all of my girlhood wedding fantasies began to take shape as my mom, our friend Lori, and I excitedly chattered on about centerpieces and floral arrangements. It’s why I want to bring owner Kathy Nuenke’s story to you all.

When Kathy first opened FTV’s doors in 2011, a place of comfort is exactly what she wanted to create. She wanted to give people a space where they could enjoy wine and not be intimidated by it. Kathy recalls that “a lot of people didn’t know what to expect when they walked in the door, but I’ve had some wonderful staff.” They have helped people find joy in the flavors of wine. “We all like sharing wine, and we let wine do the talking,” she says.

While Kathy enjoys wine, her joy in this journey hasn’t come from the wine but from the people she’s come to know over the years. “It’s been wonderful to have customers who have been coming to FTV since day one. ...We even have people who say, ‘Let’s go to Kathy’s.’ Our customers feel like they are coming to my home,” she says.

Kathy has been building this home, her business, for several years. For the first five, she poured every ounce of herself into making it a success. It’s why this next phase of her life has been extremely difficult. Last August Kathy was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. After surgery and 18 chemotherapy treatments, the cancer is gone, but the experience has drawn Kathy to a new focus: cherishing every moment she has with her husband, Ken. It’s why she’s decided to sell the business.

Kathy wants to reassure everyone that her intent is not to remove FTV from Eau Claire. She wants the spirit of FTV to be carried on in new and exciting ways. Kathy also wants the new owner to be encouraged. “I got the opportunity to make FTV the kind of wine bar I wanted,” she says. “I expect the new owner will do that, too.”

The opportunities for a new owner to grow the business are very promising. “The number of wine lovers in the area seems to have grown,” Kathy says. “I don’t see that slowing down at all.” Kathy also highlights the possibilities of expanding the menu and beverage offerings to include appetizers and cocktails! There is also an excellent space next door, which Kathy suggests could be made into a kitchen or used to host private events. “I’ve done everything from bridal parties to business meetings,” she says. “There are also many talented musicians in the area who are looking for a place to perform.”

Though saying goodbye to FTV will be difficult, Kathy knows in her heart that extending this exciting opportunity to someone new is for the best. “Having FTV has been so much fun for me,” she says. “Though it may be time to move on, we will be here until we find the right person to carry on this journey.” Kathy reminds us that, “We don’t know what the new owner will bring. ... As long as they have a love of wine and the desire to share that with other people, they will be successful.”

From the Vine Wine Room • 2526 Golf Road, Eau Claire • (715) 833-8989 • fromthevineftv.com