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Meet Jenn Feinstein of Vin Rouge Wine Bar in Berkeley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn Feinstein.

Jenn, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, starting at one of The Ritz Carlton’s flagship properties. I learned there that providing a memorable experience for our guests didn’t have to come with a huge price tag because it is about genuine care and comfort, which is priceless and something every person deserves. It is about not just meeting expectations, but exceeding them because you want to make someone feel special.

Before moving to Denver, I had the privilege of overseeing one of the first wineries in Santa Barbara County, Sunstone Vineyards & Winery. I was able to bring my love of serving guests with unforgettable experiences while learning the ins and outs of how the grape made its way from the vine to the bottle. Over several years I was able to visit tasting rooms and vineyards along the entire west coast, meeting winemakers, vineyard owners, tasting room staff, and the people maintaining the vines. They have gifted me with their stories, shared with me their love of growing grapes and making wine, and I want to share those experiences with my guests because that is what makes the difference between a good wine and a great one… the stories.

It’s about the wine drinker too, though. Many fond memories are made over a shared bottle of wine with friends and family but memories are also evoked when you close your eyes and take in the aromas. For me, when I smell bell pepper in a Sauvignon Blanc, I am taken back to picking veggies in my Pop’s garden. Wine is so special and I want to share that with my guests and hear where their wine takes them.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life itself is a challenge but after losing my mother as a young girl, I realized I could either feel bad for myself or make something of myself. It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, it’s about how you play them.

Vin Rouge Wine Bar – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Being 3000 miles away from family, and working in an industry that never closes, we had a lot of “orphan” holidays when I was younger where we would all take turns hosting each other when we were done taking care of our guests. I came to realize during these years that depending on whose house we were at, the heart of the home, we all gravitated to was different each time. So at Vin Rouge, you get to choose where your heart feels home… the front porch, living room, dining room, or kitchen. We actually appealed to the city to reduce our occupancy level because we wanted the space to feel comfortable and not crowded.

The design is purposeful and the building was carefully chosen to reflect the warmth of a historical building with original hardwoods and exposed brick, with modern but classic furniture and fixtures. It’s meant to feel luxurious but still approachable… like our wine. Our wine is unique and not something you will find on the wine list at your favorite restaurant or in markets but if you have a wine you know and love, we will help you find it’s counterpart on our list. We hope through this method that our guests that may feel intimidated by the hundreds of labels on the shelf will now have the confidence to purchase on their own without “winesplaining” to them.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’ve had many milestones I’ve been proud of in my career but opening our own business, has by far made me the proudest. This is the scariest thing we’ve ever done and we are literally putting our entire life savings on the line but there’s a favorite quote that has followed me wherever I’ve gone since the beginning of my career. What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? I’m finally putting that saying to the test.

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