Barrels wine bar set to open June 20 in Mercer Island

Barrels wine bar set to open June 20 in Mercer Island

Joe and Tina Kennedy are hoping to open a new wine bar on the island soon.

A new wine bar will be opening on Mercer Island by the month’s end with the owners hoping to bring a wide range of bottles to the downtown business district.

Barrels Wine Bar is the brainchild of Tina and Joe Kennedy. The couple lives on the island and wanted to open a tasting room since the 1980s when they worked in tasting rooms around Puget Sound.

“We just always wanted to be involved in the wine industry,” Tina Kennedy said.

The couple has been looking for space on the island for a while, but everywhere they found was either too large or needed too many repairs. When they found their current location at 7605 S.E. 27th St., a former art gallery, they knew they’d stumbled across the perfect space. So they decided to take the plunge and open a wine bar.

“Now we don’t have to look at each other and say, ‘Well, what are we gonna do today?’” Joe Kennedy said.

The former art gallery came with ceiling ties and glossy white walls, perfect for hanging pieces from the ceiling. The couple has lined up a year’s worth of artists who will display their work for two months at a time. Wine barrels feature prominently in the tasting room’s decor, with tables made of wine-stained barrel lids and lids hanging from the walls. A custom-made glass table allows patrons to view a selection of the more than 40 bottles they can taste from.

Joe Kennedy said they’ll be using Coravin needles, which punch a tiny hole in the cork to pour wine, but doesn’t let oxygen into the bottle. This allows the Kennedys to offer tasting of the more expensive wines without ruining the bottle. On the topic of prices, Barrels will be offering glasses ranging in price from $6 to $30.

“We just want it to be like coming into our house and having a glass of wine,” Tina Kennedy said.

A small kitchen will also provide light food such as smoked seafood and cheese plates, which can be paired with the wines. A few taps will also allow the couple to serve a small selection of local beers. While the couple hopes to hire a few part-time employees, they will be working in the bar too. In the future they hope to bring in live music and winemakers for small events.

For the Kennedys, wine is about socializing, talking and sharing stories with their neighbors and Barrels patrons.

“We just want to have fun for the rest of our lives,” Tina Kennedy said.

Barrels could be open by June 20, with a soft opening possible next week.


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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
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