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The original article can be found with a picture at Snp Westerville News and Public Opinionhttp://www.snponline.com/articles/2009/03/01/westerville_news_and_public_opinion/news/wemezawine_20090224_1001pm_20.txt

Meza uncorks wine sales in Uptown Westerville district

By BRET LIEBENDORFER Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 11:44 AM EST

You can now add shiraz, merlot and chardonnay to the list of items for sale in Uptown Westerville.

“Their whole intent is to not be caught up in the hustle and bustle of the modern world,” said John Swaffer, advertising manager at the Keim Lumber Company, a lumber mill in Charm, Ohio.

The historic shopping district continues to diversify as one of its newest editions -- Meza, at 48 N. State St. -- has begun selling wine.

"With there not being as many restaurants, we wanted to bring to Uptown things to do at night," said Meza owner Tatjana Brown, referencing the recent closing of The Uptown Market. )

Approval of a site-specific liquor option by Westerville Precinct 1-A voters in the November election, with over 75 percent in favor, paved the way for Meza to receive their weekday sales permit from the state in January. Uptown wine sales were uncorked at the shop about three weeks ago.

"Prior to getting the license we had so many customers coming in and asking, 'When is the wine coming?' " Brown said.

Brown knows she's selling alcohol smack in the middle of a historic district, in a town noted for its role in the historic national fight against alcohol in the early 1900s. A museum down the street documents the days when Westerville was home to the Anti-Saloon League, which successfully led the campaign to enact Prohibition.

But she said there's been little opposition to her Uptown wine shop in 2009. Brown said she thinks she's been welcomed in part due to changing attitudes but also because of Meza's upscale and classy image.

Key to Meza's wine selection is price -- most bottles range from $10 to $15 -- and variety. Currently there are 75 bottles offered and plans include adding to that number.

Mix-and-match cases can be bought at a 10 percent discount.

Future plans include hosting wine tasting nights twice a month, beginning the first week of March and pairing up with other Uptown merchants for joint events.

The addition of wine comes as the business approaches its one-year anniversary in April. Some changes patrons will notice is a smaller storefront. By closing off the back one-third of the floor, a gathering space was created.

Until now Brown has relied on sales of speciality food, many of which come from Ohio like Rossi Pasta and Sauces, Marietta, dips and spreads from Rothschild Farms, Urbana, and Vino di Milo Sauces and Marinades, Athens.

"We try to offer specialty food that cannot be found at the grocery," she said.

Since their opening last year the economy has turned for the worse, but Brown said some prices have been lowered due to buying products directly from the manufacture instead of a distributor.

Selling wine, however, always was the primary goal for the business and Brown said she hopes wine will soon account for 60 to 70 percent of her sales.

"We know it's expensive to go out. But if you're able to come in and get a great $10 bottle of wine and some chocolate, you can have a great night in," Brown said.

For more information visit vinomeza.com or call 614-259-3101. "We know it's expensive to go out. But if you're able to come in and get a great $10 bottle of wine and some chocolate, you can have a great night in."

--Tatjana Brown





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