Local couple makes, bottles, sells wine under one roof SanTan Sun News

Local couple makes, bottles, sells wine under one roof

February 11th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Local couple makes, bottles, sells wine under one roof
Business
8

By PAUL MARYNIAK
Executive Editor

You won’t find grapevines or even grapes at Basil and Colleen Kaspar’s Chandler store, but inside you’ll find all the igredients and apparatus for the small-batch, home-made wines they make, bottle and sell there.

What started as a hobby for Basil 18 years ago evolved into Down Time Wines at 393 W. Warner Road – a store, a boutique restaurant, special events venue and a growing distribution center owned by Colleen, a former bank teller supervisor, and her husband, a vice president for IT at Bank of America.

Some social discomfort started this enterprise.

“He always told people he was embarrassed to go someplace and take a bottle of Mogen David,” Colleen explained. “He wanted to make his own.”

Basil started doing just that.

He gets juices from various vineyards and experiments with various ingredients – whipping up wines like a peach chardonnay, three varieties of a Tuscan red and even a coffee wine. He puts a special Christmas line out around Thanksgiving – and sells out of it well before Dec. 25.

At most times, the store’s shelves are loaded with 30 to 40 different varieties of Basil’s wine creations.

When he moved his entire operation to the store, it was a relief for Colleen when they lived in Gilbert before moving to Chandler.

Back then, Basil’s hobby occupied “my dining room and my kitchen” she recalled, until “I finally said, ‘OK, this is enough.’”

Colleen quit her bank job four years ago to run the store while Basil splits his time between his bank job in the morning and making, bottling and helping to sell his wine in the afternoon and evening.

You won’t find wooden casks at Down Time Wines because Basil uses plastic barrels; they are easier to sanitize, Colleen said.

“We bottle it, cork it, label it – everything all right here,” she said. “We’ve got barrels that hold up to 150 bottles.”

Keeping track of what needs to be done is almost a fulltime effort in itself.

“I keep a schedule of what needs to be done each day – this needs to be mixed, this needs to be racked, this needs to be started, whatever,” Colleen explained. “We might not have anything and other days, we might have three or four things to work on.”

The wine also is special in other ways beyond flavors. It only has a shelf life of around 18 months, but it has no nitrates or preservatives – opening up a whole new market of potential consumers.

“Many people who can’t normally drink wine because it causes them to break out, get headaches or have other adverse reactions have come to find they can drink our wine with no problems,” Colleen said.

The home-made labels and their brand name reflect a sentimental attachment the couple has for a Valley landmark.

The label has a picture of Canyon Lake.

“That’s kind of part of the story of where we started. We had a boat at Canyon Lake. We love Canyon Lake and our boat didn’t have a name on it when we bought it. We had it in a slip out there and we’d go out every weekend and people kept saying ‘you got to name your boat, it’s not good luck to have a boat without a name.’ So Basil finally came up with the name ‘Down Time’ because we’d go to the lake for downtime.”

They had to sell the boat when they started the store – and that was probably all for the better because they do more than make, bottle and sell wine at the establishment.

The front of the store can seat 30 people and before the pandemic struck, Down Time Wines hosted comedy nights the third Friday of the month.

The Kaspars also hosted paint parties, where an artist comes in with table top easels so patrons can sip and create; “Fine Farkle Nights,” when patrons can play a popular dice game and relax with a glass; “Wine Wednesday” and “Fantastic Friday” for wine tastings all day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

They also host birthday, anniversary  and other kinds of parties and a monthly dinner-and-wine event, featuring fare like prime rib and Italian specialties from restaurants that carry their wine.

Though they still hold the dice game nights – Colleen says it’s “like Yahtzee but more fun,” they have been holding off on other events for the time being.

Still, the pandemic hasn’t stopped them from offering memberships in their wine club, with special offers on wines members can have delivered or ready for pick-up.

Aside from catered dinners once a month, the Kaspars have a daily menu of $5 croissant sandwiches, other kinds of sandwiches, chips, pizza and salads.

“The pizza we get from Nicatoni’s in Gilbert,” Colleen said. “He carries our wine and we carry his 10-inch pizza. We’ve got three kinds and he makes them for us and then he partially bakes them and then we get them frozen and then we continue the baking process.”

They even have a gift shop with “wine-themed items” such as glasses, tumblers and towels. They also personalize their labels for special occasions and events.

“Those make special gifts for private celebrations and even for businesses that want to give their customers a token of their appreciation,” Colleen noted.

The wine is generally priced between $12 and $18 and the couple is working to get it on more shelves.

“We’re always looking for new places and stopping into restaurants to see if they’ll carry our line,” Colleen said, adding they’re also hoping to have their wine available at convenience stores “and anything like that that sells wine.”

For more information: downtimewines.com.

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