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New wine shop brings fresh experience to downtown Bowling Green

Cameron Shaw
A variety of wines for sell at Staircase Wine Shop, located at the square in downtown Bowling Green, on Tuesday.

A new flavor experience has landed in downtown Bowling Green, bringing a variety of wines and spirits from around the world.

Staircase Wine Shop, located next to Meltdown Ice Cream as part of the 1837 Quigley-Younglove Building on State Street, opened to the public this morning. Customers will be introduced to a wide variety of wines and spirits that the shop’s owner says will be fresh and interesting.

Owner Bill Kehrwald walked around the store, pulling out bottles and sharing what makes them special. He said that he wants people to be ready to try something new when they come through his doors.

“The number one thing is to let people explore wine and the world of wine in a supportive, nurturing space,” Kehrwald said.

A front view of Staircase Wine Shop, located next to Meltdown Ice Cream on the square. (Cameron Shaw)

Kehrwald said that he hopes people come in and share their likes and dislikes and questions and interests so that he can lead them toward a new taste to try.

“This isn’t about me telling people what tastes good,” Kehrwald said, “It’s me trying to listen and help them discover what they like. Whether it’s for tonight’s meal, or if it’s like, ‘I want to learn more about what this is.’”

Kehrwald originally bought a homebrew kit while he was attending WKU, and he brewed a couple batches before he graduated. After his graduation, he got into the food industry. While he was in graduate school in Louisville, the general manager of the restaurant he worked at started including Kehrwald in wine tastings.

Bill Kehrwald (left) talks to a salesman in his store, Staircase Wine Shop, on Tuesday. Newly ordered wines and spirits are being stocked on the shelves as the store opened Tuesday morning. (Cameron Shaw)

While Kehrwald and his wife Melinda Grimsley, specialist for international scholarships in WKU’s Office of Scholar Development, were still dating, they would travel to wine shops and search for wines of different styles. A friend of Kehrwald that worked in one of the stores could listen to what styles of wines the couple wanted to try, and he would point them to different options.

Kehrwald said that he wanted to offer that same experience — being able to rely on a friend’s recommendation for wine tasting — to the Bowling Green community.

After years of ideas for starting a wine bar, the two finally landed on a retail wine shop. And through some chance meetings, Kehrwald got connected with the owner of the building where the shop is now located.

“It felt like everything kind of came to get snapped into place,” Grimsley said.

Both Kehrwald and Grimsley said that they want to see the downtown scene expand and flourish.

“There’s people that are down here because they want to be downtown; they want Bowling Green to have this beautiful space and draw and central area,” Kehrwald said. “It’s really important, I think, for any city to not have all (of) everything leached away out to the suburbs.”

Kehrwald said that he wants to see business owners continue to be unique in what they offer to the city and downtown area.

“Keep the local ownership; keep people doing weird, unique things,” he said. “Have a space where the owners can have their own personality, and keep it very Bowling Green.”

Kehrwald said that he wants to see his shop expand from the location it’s in now but to still remain downtown.

“Ultimately, what I’d love to do is have a big enough space that I can have a wine bar, tasting room, maybe a space for classroom type or, like, event type space,” he said. “But, again, that’s a ways off. I’m not going anywhere until I am really secure here.”

Grimsley said that students, who are of drinking age, that want to be adventurous and experience something new should stop by and give the shop a try.

“You have to be a person who’s willing to try something new,” Grimsley said. “Just stop in and chat.”

Staircase Wine Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The business can be found on Instagram at “staircasewineshop.”

News reporter Cameron Shaw can be reached at [email protected].

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