A look inside the Wine Vault in northeast Charlotte. (Photo by Glenn Burkins for Qcitymetro.)

Located in northeast Charlotte by the lake at University Place, the Wine Vault is a popular destination for those who not only enjoy imbibing on wine but also like to fellowship and listen to live music in a cozy, laid-back environment.

“It’s just a relaxed place to come and enjoy conversation with your friends,” said Wine Vault manager Kristine Sjostron. “We are not your typical snobby wine store.”

Opened nearly three decades ago, The Wine Vault is home to hundreds of reasonably priced wines from all around the world, which can be purchased by the bottle (starting at $14.99 and up) or by the case. Mixed cases are available, and 15 wine selections can be purchased by the glass.

“We carry a number of boutique and collectible wines that many people like to hold on to for years,” said Sjostron. She added that all of the wines are tried and tested by the staff before being brought into the store.

“There is nothing in here on the shelves that one of us doesn’t enjoy.”

In addition to wine and cigars, The Wine Vault also carries over 300 beers, which include everything from high gravity beers (craft beers or malt liquors with an increased specific gravity) to microbrews and domestics.

“A lot of people assume that because it is a wine vault that we don’t have beer,” said Sjostron. “But we have a lot of beer.”

Underneath the store is an actual wine vault, where customers can rent space.

“If people have a collection at home that’s getting too big or they don’t have proper storage, they can come in and rent out wine storage,” said Sjostron. “It’s at a constant 57 degrees and 70 percent humidity.”

The Wine Vault is also popular among dog lovers.

“We are dog-friendly,” said Sjostron. “We don’t have a kitchen, so you can bring your dogs inside.”

In addition, they work with animal control and rescue agencies in the area to help facilitate dog and cat adoptions about four times a year. “Because we are such animal-friendly people, we try to do what we can to help out.”

And because they don’t have a kitchen, guests are also welcomed to bring in food from other restaurants.

“We have a group of regulars who come in every Friday and have pizza delivered,” said Sjostron.

You can stop by The Wine Vault for live music each Friday and Saturday (no cover). When the weather warms up, live music will also provided on Thursdays and Sundays as well.

Wine tastings are held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ($5 cover).

The Wine Vault, 9009-l J.M. Keynes Drive. 704-548-9463. www.headwino.com.

Getting There: Nestled between North Tryon Street and West W.T. Harris Boulevard in northeast Charlotte, The Wine Vault is located in the Shoppes at University Place — a great place to spend the day shopping, relaxing, dining and enjoying outdoor activities in a tranquil lake setting. Do it all while leaving the car behind and letting someone else do the driving. If you are traveling from uptown Charlotte, it is about a 30-minute ride aboard CATS bus route 11. To shorten the trip, utilize one of the many CATS park-and-ride locations. For route schedules or to plan a trip from anywhere in the city, pay a visit to www.ridetransit.org.


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