Key Biscayne’s wine scene has always offered residents a wide array of selections, both at the local island restaurants such as Costa Med Bistro, KEBO and Narbona, and at retailers such as Winn Dixie and The Golden Hog, which recently launched its own wine club. For decades, Stefanos also offered spirits and a selection of wine.
Soon, the island’s wine offerings will grow again as VINYA, taking shape on the site of Stefanos at the Galleria Shopping Center, will offer a diverse wine selection for sale.
The early reception to Stefanos, powered by VINYA, has been positive. “We launched VINYA as an e-commerce company and then we decided to open our first popup story in Coral Gables,” said CEO Nicholas Garcia, a former real estate professional with a love for wine.
“People knew our wine offerings but not us,” he added. “And have to tell you, the experience of getting to personally know our customers was incredible. Since that time, our following has been growing on a day-to-day basis. We seem to be developing a loyal base of loyal customers.”
For Garcia, VINYA fulfills a dream to launch his own business.
“I was looking to open a business that I could feel passionate about,” he told Islander News. “A friend suggested the idea of getting into the wine promoting business.
“I made it a point to get more educated on the wine industry and went to Europe on some wine-tasting trips. The more I learned about the ins and outs of the industry, the more hooked I became. The worldwide variety of wines is incredible, each part brings their own special ‘toque’ and selection.”
Before preparing to launch VINYA, Garcia would learn more about a wine he personally enjoyed. Now, his thirst for wine knowledge is increasing daily and growing more nuanced. “It is not only learning about the wine, but also choosing a perfect wine for the season, like a super Burgundy to a great Chardonnay.”
The name VINYA, Wine Bar + Kitchen + Market, reflects Garcia’s vision to “be the best in the local neighborhood, promoting best service, providing best quality at the best prices.” Garcia said he intends to be One Stop Wine Shop, with local artisan products to compliment the wine experience.
The “kitchen” area, operated by Chef Mariano Arraya, is tucked into a private area in the back of the store, which can be used for wine classes and tastings. “We will have Happy Hours with special promotions and offerings. Our goal is to make the experience more interesting and unique. Customers will be able to sample wines while enjoying tapas. Then they will be able to purchase the wine and tapas ingredients to continue the experience at home.”
Garcia considers his team excellent, starting with Allegra Angelo, who “is our in-house sommelier and will be responsible for VINYA's wine collection and programming. Allegra is an expert in wines and spirits.”
Along with Allegra and Chef Mariano, the team of Jason, Carolina, Alex, Daniel and Gustavo will focus on making sure residents not only receive great wine suggestions, but answers to their questions. “We want our customers to feel comfortable in our store and truly appreciate the wide selection of wines.”
VINYA plans to offer wines for every taste and budget. “Prices will range from $10 all the way up to $2,000. “We will also offer wines unique to VINYA, but also the traditional offerings. And we are working on a wine subscription concept, which we will announce soon.”
Garcia understands the expectations that come with replacing a community staple like Stefanos. “We understand and respect the legacy Stefanos has in this community. It is something we admire. We just come at it with a new and fresh concept. So far, the reaction has been very positive.”
VINYA, located at 328 Crandon Blvd. in the Galleria Shopping Center, is remaining open during renovations. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
You can reach them at (305) 361-7007.