In a leap of faith, Kirk Ermisch bought the property on Lava and Arizona in 2008 because it sits in the center of town. Located on the edge of the historic district, Ermisch had no idea what would happen with the neighborhood, since it was still undeveloped—but back then, he'd heard a Market of Choice was in the works. Today, that store is an anchor for the neighborhood.
- Lisa Sipe
- Kirk Ermisch draws a glass of wine at the new Elixir locacation on Arizona Ave.
Ermisch has worked in the wine industry with giants including Penfolds and Kendall Jackson since graduating from college. He helped Kendall Jackson develop Tapiz, a commercial winery and vineyard in Argentina, but when the company changed directions he went off on his own. Malbec, one of the six varietals allowed in the blend of Bordeaux, was unknown at the time, but Ermisch knew it would become a category. He started Elixir Wine Group and pioneered the growth of the Malbec market in the United States. Today, Elixir imports wine from nine countries and distributes nationally, while producing a selection of its own wines.
Six years ago, when Elixir had a tasting room and office in The Box Factory, the building of the Lava Lane property began. With its ties to the historic district, the road to completion was challenging. With luck, none of the old property structures needed to be retained, as is the case for many properties in the district. Today, a brand new two-story red brick and exposed-wood building sits on the corner, featuring a paved patio. Inside is a public tasting room, a small wine production room, a commercial kitchen, a private rooftop patio and offices for staff. The bars throughout the building were made with trees removed from the site. "I'm glad the epic build is behind me," said Ermisch.
The tasting room is open to the public with seating inside and out. Wine lovers can sip on wines by the glass, discover new white or red varietals with a flight or savor wine cocktails while noshing on Madrid-style tapas. The small food menu includes empanadas, bruschetta, patatas bravas, bacon-wrapped dates, cheese with charcuterie and skewered beef with chimichurri sauce. Ladies from Mendoza taught Ermisch the recipe for the traditional Argentine empanadas.
It's uncommon to find expensive wines available by the glass, but with a Coravin wine preservation system that can extract liquid through the cork without exposing the wine to oxygen, Elixir can offer them. Because the bottle is preserved, the wine won't be wasted if it doesn't sell quickly. If you're interested in tasting a pricier vintage it's unique to be able to ask if you can simply order a glass.
- Lisa Sipe
Moving forward, Ermisch wants to work with local growers to produce wine at the custom crush site on the property. By being centrally located in the state, grapes can be trucked in from almost any local region without sitting around for too long.
The grand opening for Elixir is scheduled for Thursday, June 6 from 4 to 9 pm. The day's events include a ribbon cutting, complimentary sparkling wine toast and music—and we've heard there will be a rolling bar.