Faustini Wines, a tasting experience and retail shop in one, is set to open on Broad Street in March. (Click to enlarge)


Rcsm2_010508Red Bank-area oenophiles will have a new downtown destination to check out in coming months.

With Faustini Wines, Michelle Faustini and her husband, Anthony, hope to offer a service not found anywhere else in town: a place where diners on their way to a BYOB restaurant can taste wine before they buy it.

“We’re looking to create a true Napa Valley tasting experience,” said Faustini. “I think the town needs something like this to bring people together.”

Elio Ventrella’s Glambar is getting a new name. (Click to enlarge)

While the Faustinis have lived just over the bridge in Middletown for the past eight years, their full-time jobs working in sales for technology companies have led them to live bicoastal lifestyles for years. After determining that their love of wine could be a legacy for their family, they opened their first winery in California in 2005.

“We’ve always been very passionate about wine,” said Faustini. “We would plan what we’d drink each night and plan the meal around it. We were building our collection and our enthusiasm grew.

“When we first decided to start a business, we said, well, what do we love? We love wine. We joked about it, but then said why not?”

The business grew quickly. “We have long-term contract with Napa’s finest vineyards,” Faustini said. “We launched our first brand in 2005, Faustini Wines. Since, we have launched two additional brands, Play Date Wines and Velvet & Vinyl.

The Faustinis will sell only their own brands from their store, and because the shop will be classified as a winery, it will not require a liquor license under state law, she said.

With their busy lives (the couple have a three-year-old daughter), they were patient when it came to finding the perfect location to start sharing their wines on the East Coast. When the space formerly occupied by David Banegas Gallery became available at 43 Broad, they knew they had to act on it.

“It has good visibility on all angles, plus decent foot traffic. Our friends in the area over at SugarRush and The Cheese Cave said it was about time, we’ve been talking about it forever,” said Faustini.

Faustini Wines’ will offer a more a educational wine-buying experience, with a focus on tastings and suggestions for food pairings, Faustini said. The couple are also working with a chocolate company to provide customized samples.

Faustini said they are excited to become an active part of Red Bank’s tight-knit group of shops and restaurants. “We’re looking to work together with the local businesses, ” she said. “If we don’t take care of one another, no one else is going to take care of us.”

To that end, they hired Red Bank interior designer Amy Manor to bring their vision to life. “It’ll be really swank inside,” said Faustini. “With tall tasting tables and plenty of room for people to gather before or after a meal. Amy is incredible.”

They signed the lease in December and hope to open March 1. The business will compete with Heritage Liquors, at Broad and East Front streets; the Wine Cellar, on Monmouth; and Red Bank Liquors, on West Street; and the yet-to-open Royal Wines and Spirits, taking over the former Space Interiors space at 24 White Street.

In other Churnings:

Just in time for the first anniversary of his Broad Street hair business in March, Elio Ventrella plans to rename the shop from the Glam Bar to One BlowDry Bar to better reflect the main focus of the business: no cuts, no color, just styling blowouts.

A self-described relentless perfectionist, Ventrella said the change is a matter of fine-tuning. The business “did catch on,” he said, so much that he’s got some customers who come in four times a week. “But did it catch on fully? No.” He thinks the new name will add momentum, he said.