Sip & Savor
Jayne Barth and her daughter Vanessa Menke opened Kate’s Wine Bar in June of 2008 and named it after their mother and grandmother, Kate. The mother and daughter team sold Kate’s to Lauren Marcove nearly four years ago when they opened Jake’s Brew Bar a half a block away.
Marcove, the current proprietor, planned to open a coffee shop, but once she met and fell in love with the customers at Kate’s, she knew she couldn’t change a thing.
“If I did, I would have been driven out of Littleton,” laughs Marcove.
Known as the “Cheers” of wine bars, Kate’s is a charming, neighborhood spot off Main Street in the heart of Historic Downtown Littleton. Just eleven miles south of downtown Denver, the four-block stretch of the booming historic district retains its quaint, small town feel. The streets are lined with turn-of-the-century buildings and historic landmarks that house art galleries, antique shops, restaurants, a specialty chocolate shop, yoga studio, bookstore, spice shop, wine merchant, pottery studio and tea parlor, among others, and most are independently owned.
Kate’s Wine Bar, which echoes the character and charm of the area, has a European flair. In fact, one patron, new to Kate’s, said it reminded her of her favorite wine bar in Paris, in the Marais. “I just love the friendly welcome and cozy atmosphere. Lounging here evokes memories of wonderful evenings with my husband at La Belle Hortense, our beloved Paris haunt.”
The black and white awning with the name of Kate’s Wine Bar invites patrons into the space that used to house a bank. The original door to the vault in the basement still hangs from the wall. The furniture is eclectic - a pair of oversized chairs face each other near the entrance next to a tabletop made from old wine corks. The exposed brick walls, Tuscan yellow paint and dark wood give the place a homey, cozy feel. “It’s especially inviting in the winter months, when it’s cold out,” says Marcove. “We wanted to create an atmosphere where people could come and catch up with friends and stay awhile.”
Marcove personally greets customers as they walk through the door and escorts them out when they leave. Many of Kate’s customers are devoted “regulars,” although Marcove is reluctant to call them that. “They’re more like family,” she says. Honoring the wine bar’s namesake was also important to Marcove—a large black and white photograph of Kate and her husband Jake still hangs above the mantel.
Kate’s is a wine bar for wine lovers and the draw is quality wine for reasonable prices.
The beverage menu boasts 60 different bottles of wine from around the world. The weekday happy hour runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and includes $5 glasses “that are equally as good as the wine on the menu,” says Marcove. “That’s important because that’s your introduction to Kate’s.”
Kate’s also serves flights, which are expertly selected by Dano Householder, the bar manager and former wine distributor. One evening, Householder featured three wines for the white flight: a Ronchi di Pietro Pinot Grigio from Friuli, Italy, the Groom Sauvignon Blanc from Adelaide Hills, Australia and an Albert Bichot Macon Villages from Burgundy, France. “I always try to add wines you might never have heard of before, never tried,” says Householder. “I love to showcase different grapes and different styles. That’s part of the fun of flights.”
The red flight of the evening featured the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau, the first wine of the harvest which is always released the Thursday before Thanksgiving. “This flight has three wonderful representations of the gamay varietal; ranging from lovely light fruit to a more robust style,” says Householder.
Besides the wines offered and a selection of beer and specialty drinks, there are seven appetizers on the menu, ranging in price from $4 to $15. They include dips—artichoke and jalapeno, spinach and artichoke, and hummus—as well as a traditional cheese and cracker platter and charcuterie. The signature dish is the baked Brie. The creamy cheese is topped with pecans, craisins and brown sugar and baked in aged Port. Desserts include a warm chocolate brownie topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce and mousse and berries, both $6.
On a Sunday afternoon in late November, Householder found a 2004 Groom Sauvignon Blanc in his cellar and brought it in to share with the employees as they decorated the wine bar for the upcoming holiday season. They sipped on the vintage wine as they placed Christmas trees in each of the bay windows, garlands on the walls and mistletoe up the columns. They added flickering lights around the mantel and Christmas stockings Marcove had made especially for the staff. “They’re not just employees, they’re like my kids,” Marcove explains as she walks to the mantel to show off the embroidered stockings. “And they call me ‘Bar Mama.’”
5761 S. Nevada St., Littleton
Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight
Happy hour Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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Rachel Engleberg, writer, television journalist and mother of three, enjoys a glass of wine from time to time.
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