Della Viti — ‘Froyo’ for adults6/22/2016
“The building you are in has a great history.” That’s the first line in the narrative that explains what’s happened in this building, which now houses Della Viti, Des Moines’ first self-service wine dispensary. The bar is in the East Village at 425 E. Grand Ave., but the building was originally constructed in 1894 near East Seventh Street.
The building’s original owner went on to become a prominent businessman, and as he established himself, he converted the rowhouse into a rental property. Later, it became the practice facility for the Norden Singers, a Swedish choral group.
“The State has indicated it will demolish the rowhouse unless it is moved before the end of summer 2013,” reads the line in the first paragraph of a 2013 city document detailing what the fate of the rowhouse — known as Norden Hall — would be unless it was moved and renovated.
“This was a week away from demolition,” said Joshua Peterson, the bar’s manager.
But Des Moines’ city leaders stepped in and relocated the historic building. Later, the owners of a successful wine bar in Ames, Gerald and Cora Caligiuri,
decided it would be a good place to try the same concept they’d been utilizing up north.
The concept consisted of selling wine from dispensaries designed to store wine while keeping it fresh, properly cooled and eventually poured with precision.
“But the attorney general had to approve it,” Peterson said. Apparently, it’s illegal in Iowa to dispense alcohol from a vending machine.
But Della Viti in Des Moines won a waiver, just as it had in Ames, and the dream came together. Now it offers more than 40 varieties of wine on any given night.
“It’s like ‘fro-yo’ for adults,” said Peterson, comparing the self-service stations to drawing your own frozen yogurt treat. “It’s somewhere adults go to hang out with more adults.”
Purchasing wine consists of first buying a prepaid card at the bar. Each card is akin to a hotel key, and it must be returned at the end of each visit.
After purchasing a card, patrons may select from a range of 40 wines, slide their card, put the glass under the dispenser and wait for the spirits to be dispensed.
“You know you’re going to get a fresh pour,” said Peterson, adding that the machines are pressurized with nitrogen to ensure just that.
Purchases can be made in three portion sizes: A 1.5-ounce taste, a 2.75-ounce partial glass, or a full 5-ounce pour. In-house, full-bottle service carry out and special order wine are also available, as well as limited food selections, gourmet sodas and a full service bar offering a variety of craft beers.
“At least 20,” said Peterson of the craft beer, adding that it’s common for “beer snobs” to come in with friends, only to later admit they are impressed with the wine bar’s beer selection. CV
425 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 2-10 p.m.; noon – midnight Friday and Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.