It’s not every day you find Old World charm in the heart of Tacoma, but that’s just what boutique urban winery Vino Aquino serves up. The shop is modest from the outside, yet inside is purple and cozy and lit with warm, ambient lighting — courtesy of new owner Megan Bostic who has plans to take the store to new heights.
While Megan is newer to Vino Aquino, she follows generations of her family who have made wine. It all started with the store’s namesake, Gasparo Aquino, her great grandfather who’s now immortalized on the wall of the wine shop and on many of the wine bottles. He passed on a tradition of making wine to generations of family members. Grandfather Gasparo came to the US and taught his descendants the skill while keeping it up himself, even making liquor and wine through Prohibition and hiding it under his chicken coop where no inspector wanted to go.
Vino Aquino has operated in Tacoma since 2001, formerly by Megan’s cousins, and Megan just recently took over the family business. She’s a woman of many talents (including being a published young adult author), but she has now focused all her attention on wine, wine making, and turning Vino Aquino into a community hub as well as wine supply store and winery.
“A lot of urban wineries are right in the city and don’t have vineyards — in fact, I have people ask me where the vineyards are,” she says, noting that there are no vineyards behind the store. “We do make our own wine, but a lot of urban wineries don’t. They buy their wine all the way done and relabel it. It’s called custom crushes or private labels. They can’t tell people how to make wine or anything like that, but we can.”
All the wine you see on the rack at Vino Aquino is made right in the store, in fact, right in the back of the store. It’s true, there are no vineyards, but Megan works from juice she buys from suppliers, adds additives and creates her wines from scratch.
“I try to keep some standards here,” she says. “I have cab and merlot and pinot grigio and chardonnay. We have some fruit wines that other people don’t sell. We have a peach chardonnay and a blackberry merlot right now.”
Regular red and white wines run $14, while fruit wines are usually about $12. Sometimes there are limited edition wines — including a fabulous strawberry Riesling that didn’t last long at all because it was so delicious — that may be more expensive. The fruit wines are delicious, lightly sweet, and lower in alcohol than the usual reds and whites. A special standout is the peach chardonnay. If you see it on the shelf and have any preference for peach at all, you won’t regret giving it a taste. It’s called Cloud 9. Other wines have fun names like the Cat’s Meow (chardonnay) or Monkey’s Uncle (blackberry merlot). There’s always a wine list at the counter that you can use to check out what’s available.
For long-time customers, the standard wines may have new names since Megan took over. The bottles also look a little different as well, but things like the peach chardonnay are still the same as they have been for many years on the inside. Megan is upping the aesthetic appeal across the board, from bottles to chandeliers to paint on the walls.
“I’ve put a lot of work into this place,” says Megan. “It looked kind of like a hardware store before. I repainted the whole place — now it’s purple and sparkly. I’m getting a bar made. I’ve moved things around, gotten more tables and moved the bar up front.”
There are more changes on the horizon as well. Beyond wine and some beer making supplies, she also hopes to sell or display products and art by local craftspeople and artists. She’s been making crafts that she sells as well, including cork keychains, wine charms, decorated bottles and cork boards.
Megan is always one to try something new. She’s also been trying out a variety of classes and events at the shop.
“We do cooking classes. We try to do one a month,” she says. “We do wine and art nights where you paint while drinking a glass of wine. We’re trying to do that every third Thursday. It’s really fun. I’ve been doing ladies night where we make some crafts with wine. I wasn’t intending to do a craft for ladies night, but people come in and they like something to do.”
She’s hoping to do some Seahawks events in the fall (maybe a Seahawks wine label) as well as some trivia nights, and, in the past, she has hosted poetry and jazz night and even a singles night.
Beyond public events, people can also set up their own wine tasting parties for $5 per person for up to 30 people, or if you want to come in and taste wine on your own, you can do that, too. At this point, Megan is trying a bit of everything to find out what works, so keep an eye out for new events and happenings on Vino Aquino’s Facebook page.
Vino Aquino also offers some of the most unique gifts you’ll find in town — custom wine labels. Megan can design them or you can send her one to work with and she’ll get it on a bottle of your choice. She works with realtors who get custom labels for clients, with weddings large and small, non-profits and businesses. But make no mistake — you can get a single bottle as a gift, too, and there may be no finer gift that a bottle of wine with your name on it.
4417 6th Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98406