Wine bar offers casual vibe in Valley Junction
When Kelly Sharp visited her friends in Portland, Oregon, they frequented an intimate, casual place to drink a few
glasses of wine and chat.
After she returned home, she wanted to share the same atmosphere in Des Moines with her friends. Her options
were seemingly limited to sports bars, Iowa wineries and breweries — but no small wine bars.
The solution? She created her own wine bar one year ago, Vino209 in Valley Junction.
Vino209 (named after the building address on Fifth Street) is in a former alleyway. The space was wedged between Kelly’s other business, Heart of Iowa Market Place, and the Tavern Pizza. The interior walls are the outside brick
walls from the 100-year-old building. Architects from herhusband Denny’s FEH Design firm designed the interior.
The Vino209 logo adorns the insides, including a huge steel “V” created by her son and crafted in Wyoming. Local
artwork hanging on the wall is also for sale.
Wines by the glass start at $7. A selection of about 50 bottles is available in house or for carry out.
Kelly admits she is not a professional sommelier. She just likes to drink wine and often relies on experts or personal
taste. She selects from four different distributors and is open to trying new wines.
“Why do I drink the same thing all the time?” she asks. “I’m hoping others feel the same with our selection and try
One requirement for wine is its uniqueness to Iowa.
“We want to provide a wide variety of wines, especially ones you can’t find at HyVee,” she says.
In addition to wine, several beers are available. A menu serves up sharable dishes, creative entrees by Chef Andrew
Phelps, cheese boards and more. Local fare includes tomatoes purchased during the farmers market for their bruschetta. They offer tiny cakes from “Let Them Eat Cake.”
Small touches, such as fresh flowers and unique lighting fixtures, grace the building. Servers polished wine glasses
frequently before dispensing generous pours.
A mix of millennials and baby boomers frequent the wine bar for lunch, dinner and after-work gatherings. A back
overflow room is available for private wine parties. On warm evenings, the front window folds back for an instant outdoor patio.
Wine-pairing events will be featured this fall. Free wine tastings are on Wednesdays, and Tuesday nights feature
live music from 6-9 p.m. And, lastly, a loyalty program app offers rewards, such as discounts on full bottles, for frequent purchases.
What’s better than drinking a glass of wine? Being rewarded for drinking. Patrons will be rewarded, too, with an intimate place to gather with friends. ♦