New Wine Bar is Retirement Dream for Local Couple

June 18, 2018 | by Naomi Tomky

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When Barrels Wine Bar opens on June 20th, Mercer Island will have a new place to drink and shop for wine, and Tina and Joe Kennedy will fulfill a dream.

The pair (Tina is a graduate of Mercer Island High School), first hatched the idea around the time they got married in 1983, though it remained on hold, even as they held jobs in the local wine industry, until after Joe’s retirement in 2016. Now, leather chairs, bold art, and 1500 bottles on shelves help the couple welcome customers in their own wine bar.

“We wanted to make it like our house,” says Joe of the comfortable seating—padded stools and stuffed chairs—which plays well into their main goal – to make Barrels a fun place. Fun, he adds, for everyone. For the first-time wine buyer taking baby steps or just enjoying a night out, they sell a $5.75 glass of French wine. At the same time, oenophiles can geek out over a $300 magnum or an esoteric bottle of Garrison Creek.

The small kitchen puts out charcuterie plates, smoked fish, and a few other nibbles designed to go well with wine. At any given time, they plan to have about 40 wines by the glass, and customers can drink any bottle on site for a small corkage fee ($10 bottles under $75, $15 for those above). At the bar, the high central table, or the pairs of low chairs facing small tables, customers can drink while also enjoying striking art that pops off the walls, which will rotate every few months.

The wines offered come from Washington—which the pair are extremely familiar with, having worked at Covey Run, Columbia, Snoqualmie, and more—as well as the rest of the West Coast, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and Argentina. What unites every bottle here is the Kennedys’ own palates. “We tasted every wine on the shelf,” something Joe says gives them a unique ability to help customize wine selection for people coming in to drink. They’ll also have a daily tasting, for those who want to try a few samples, as well as four taps of Pacific Northwest craft beer on tap.

Showing off his favorite bottles, a glass pour from the self-distributed Structure in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood or a bottle of Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon, Joe’s joy spills over. “Our objective,” he says, of how they designed the store and selected the wines, “is to get people to drink.” And starting on June 20, when the doors open, drink they shall.

Grand Opening

Barrels Wine Bar is celebrating its Grand Opening on Wednesday, June 20th from 5 to 8 pm.

Barrels Wine Bar is located at 7605 SE 27th Street, Suite 107, Mercer Island, WA  98040 (where you’ll also find the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce office, Clarke + Clarke Art & Artifacts, Sano Cafe, Island Treats, and I Luv Pho).

Hours of operation will be Tuesday through Thursday, Noon to 8 pm; Friday & Saturday, Noon to 9 pm; and Sunday, Noon to 6 pm.

Follow Barrels Wine Bar on Facebook and Instagram.

6 Comments

  1. Thanks Sirianni Real Estate Group for the great story! Naomi, you captured our concept really well. Big thanks to your team for adding to the excitement!

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — June 18, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

  2. We’re so glad you enjoyed our article, Joe! Congratulations to you and Tina on your opening of Barrels Wine Bar. We can’t wait to stop by soon! ~Erin and Charlie

    Comment by Erin Sirianni — June 18, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

  3. This is just what we envisioned on our block. When we moved in 4 years ago.
    Unique businesses, places to gather, local owners and a great mix. With the diligence of a good landlord it happened!
    Welcome Tina & Joe … we are thrilled to be your neighbors.
    Cheers, salude, and best wishes,
    Ginny & Jim
    Clarke & Clarke Art + Artifacts #105

    Comment by Ginny — June 18, 2018 @ 9:09 pm

  4. Ginny and Jim,
    We are excited to be the New Kids On The Block! That’s my last bad pun/reference to that band. Likewise, we are thrilled to be your neighbors and looking forward to being great neighbors of everyone downtown! In fact, I’m enjoying a Cherry Bomb from Island Treats as I write this. Here’s to MI City Center!
    Cheers!
    Joe and Tina

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — June 18, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

  5. I’m thrilled to have a locally owned wine bar on the island! Looking forward to visiting and planning a mom-group happy hour here soon!

    Comment by Ashley Kline — June 19, 2018 @ 8:14 am

  6. What a beautiful article, Erin! How lucky is our amazing Island!? Welcome Tina and Joe to the neighborhood! We raise a glass to you and to many, many years of joy and connections….congratulations on your opening!
    Lisa & Rino Caruccio

    Comment by Lisa Caruccio — June 19, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

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