D’Vine Gourmet owners open a boutique event venue - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

D’Vine Gourmet owners open a boutique event venue

October 11th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
D’Vine Gourmet owners open a boutique event venue
Business
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By Geri Koeppel, Contributor

D’Vine Gourmet retail shop in downtown Chandler is a mecca for many things — fancy food and wine, desert-themed gifts, homemade candy and snacks, gift baskets and more — and now it also boasts a boutique event space around the corner at 96 W. Boston St. called Chandler Pops!

Andrew and Denise McCreery, who own both d’Vine Gourmet and Chandler Pops!, opened the 600-square-foot venue as a community space. 

They’re hosting bunco parties, wine tastings and “date night” dinners that are open to the public. They also will book other events that anyone can attend, such as mimosas and macramé parties or sip-and-paint nights.

“The one thing we’ve learned about COVID and post-COVID is that people want to gather together,” Denise said. “There’s a million things we could’ve done with that space. It’s a place to gather.”

Chandler Pops! also rents by the hour for private “micro events” such as birthday parties, baby showers, board meetings, classes, clubs and more. Capacity is about 40, or 30 seated comfortably. 

 “We hope the majority of our events will be open to everybody,” Denise said.

The private rental fee for Chandler Pops! starts at $90 an hour and includes chairs, tables, a big-screen TV, surround sound, craft sink and private bathroom. 

Renters can bring their own decor, food and drink, including alcohol, or an in-house specialist can arrange for that. It has a keypad for access from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily, and a large free municipal parking garage is less than a block away.

Prior to the pandemic, d’Vine Gourmet held monthly wine, beer, cider or sake tastings in the shop starting the day they got their liquor license in 2010. Andrew, a sommelier, led the sessions. 

Starting soon, they’ll offer an expanded version of that idea monthly at Chandler Pops! called “A Taste of Downtown Chandler” featuring dishes by neighboring restaurants paired with wines or other adult beverages. The first one will include tapas plates from BlackSheep Wine Bar & Merchant, Pedal Haus Brewery and more.

“It’ll be a great way to collaboratively show off all of the partners downtown,” Denise said.

The cost for the tastings will vary from about $30-90, depending on what’s being served, Denise said, and tickets will be sold online. The website and Facebook page will list a calendar of events.

Nikki Janulewicz of Gilbert attended a bunco party at Chandler Pops! in September. 

“My adult daughter and I went and met a bunch of people we had never met before, which was a lot of fun,” she said. “And it was all different ages, which was kind of cool, too.”

Janulewicz said Andrew matched wines with peoples’ preferences. “They’re very accommodating and hands-on,” she said. “They just put on such a fun night. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. They’re very welcoming.”

Denise said the night was a “huge hit,” adding, “We had 24 strangers show up and 24 friends leave.” 

The business has come a long way since its humble start Oct. 3, 2003. Andrew was in the wine business and Denise worked in software, but she was bored. 

One day, she experimented with some wine Andrew brought home and “literally turned wine into jelly,” she said.

They couple would load up their two kids — Kate, now 23, and David, 22 — and peddle their jars at local farmers markets and street fairs. One day, AJ’s Fine Foods asked if they could sell their wares wholesale, and eventually the jellies landed on store shelves statewide.

Before long, customers were walking into d’Vine Gourmet’s commercial kitchen in Tucson asking for gift baskets. 

“We pretty much let our customers tell us where to go in our business,” Denise said. “Every time they had an idea, we said sure.”

In 2004, d’Vine Gourmet opened a few hours a week in Tucson retailing their award-winning caramels, chocolates, nut and snack mixes, mustards and gift baskets, which are still their number one seller.

Andrew still worked for a wine distributor at the time and got a promotion in 2008 that required the family to move to the Valley. After a year of commuting once a week, Denise opened a store at Riggs and McQueen roads in south Chandler. 

She still used the Tucson kitchen, but closed it in 2013 and moved it to Fulton Ranch.

After the pandemic hit, the McCreerys considered operating online only. But the City of Chandler was keen on preserving retail on the historic square, and as it happened, 

Andrew lost his corporate job as vice president of fine wines in 2020. So the couple joined forces and moved d’Vine Gourmet to 72 S. San Marcos Place in September 2021, where it has an on-site kitchen.

Now, Denise is the creative director while Andrew serves as general manager.

 The 5,000-square-foot store — double the size of the previous location — is a gift bonanza, selling T-shirts, glassware, cheese boards, books, pillows, art, knick-knacks, packaged foods and beverages in addition to its own house-made treats.

Andrew calls the wine shop at the back of d’Vine Gourmet his “play area” where he curates an impressive selection of more than 100 wines that aren’t always easy to find at prices that beat the big box stores.

Andrew is “the best at finding boutique wineries and family-owned winners that have stories,” Denise said. “This is a small but mighty footprint of small but eclectic wines with a nice showing from Arizona.”

 “There was no sense in Andrew going back to work” for the distributor, given his wine and sales knowledge, she said, adding:

 “Andrew stepped in and it was perfect. Not only could we keep our company alive, but we could thrive. And we did thrive.”

If you go

Chandler Pops!

96 W. Boston St.

chandlerpops.com; 480-477-3202

D’vine Gourmet

72 S. San Marcos Place

stores.dvinegourmet.com; 480-275-5320

 

d’Vine Gourmet hosting 2 authors, illustrator

Two published authors and an illustrator will speak and sign books at d’Vine Gourmet, 72 S. San Marcos Place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 22.

They are: Chandler resident Laurie Fagen, author of “Behind the Mic Mysteries,” carried at d’Vine Gourmet; Bonnie Lou Coleman, who illustrated the children’s book “No More Pigs in the House” written by her brother, Kenneth Allen Coleman; and “Turkey Savvy” cookbook author Jessica Chun. The event will include food, readings, giveaways and personalized book signings.

Fagen’s three crime fiction novels, “Fade Out,” “Dead Air” and “Bleeder,” are set in Chandler and feature a young radio reporter who covers the crime beat, helps Chandler Police solve cold cases and writes campy murder mystery podcasts.

Coleman, a long-time area artist, musician, and art and music instructor, created the images for her brother’s true story about his beloved pet pig, Princess Tocina, a fun, smart and treasured member of their family.

Williams, a Chinese American who grew up in Hawaii eating rice and dim-sum on Thanksgiving, learned to cook an entire turkey dinner with the trimmings when she married her Caucasian husband from Michigan.

Information: Laurie@ReadLaurieFagen.com.