New Wine Bar The Rev Aims to Make Wine Less Intimidating

Emilee Wentland, photos by Andrea Paulseth

DON’T CODDLE THE BOTTLE. A relaxed wine bar, The Rev is now open at 204 S. Barstow Street. Along with wine tastings, owners Kate and Benny Haas will feature events in the bar’s back room.
A relaxed wine bar, The Rev is now open at 204 S. Barstow Street. Along with wine tastings, owners Kate and Benny Haas will feature events in the bar’s back room.

A relaxed, non-intimidating wine bar has made its debut downtown. The Rev, 204 S. Barstow St., will bring a unique wine-tasting experience to Eau Claire.

“We’re trying to take the pretentiousness out of wine drinking and just have it be a fun thing where people can learn about all different types of wines and get the full experience that people have probably never had,” said Kate Haas, co-owner of The Rev.

In addition to The Rev, Haas and her husband, Benny, own The Plus and The Metro. After plans to open last May and December fell through, their official grand opening was set for May 1. The Haases also held several “soft openings” for friends and community members.

Haas said they want everyone who comes to The Rev to enjoy their time at the wine bar without feeling pressured or intimidated by wine tastings. They want The Rev to feel like “the opposite of your typical wine bar,” she said.

The name “Rev” is short for revolutionary (and there’s a big wall decal inside to remind you). They chose revolutionary because the word describes something new and exciting, and they wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, Haas said.

Ideally, she said, they’ll turn non-wine drinkers into people who enjoy wine. To do this, Haas and her husband will take a hands-on approach to make the bar feel welcoming.

Along with wine tastings, The Rev will feature events in its back room, in a similar fashion to The Plus and The Metro. For instance, it will host craft nights during which patrons can make something wine-related. The Rev will also have a wine club: Members who pay a monthly fee will have access to special events, discounts, and even wine lockers where they can keep their finds.

“Nothing’s off limits for us,” Haas said. “But initially … the focus will be on the customer and educating them on vast amount of wines that are out there that I think the majority of people in Eau Claire just haven’t been exposed to.”

The Rev has a variety of wines from all over. They have 18 wines on tap, plus a selection to choose from in coolers and on shelves. The TVs above the counter display options for wine flights, which each feature a sampling of three wines from around the world. Customers can choose from red, white, or sweet, or they can mix it up and build their own flight.

In addition to The Rev’s variety of choices from around the world, they also have wines at price points ranging from $4 to $250. To complement the wine tastings, they have charcuterie boards, which they prepare in-house.

For those looking for something other than wine, The Rev has a beer fridge, which has beers uncommon to the area. For those who don’t want to decide on just one new beer, The Rev also has a “build your own six-pack” option.

Overall, Haas said she wants to avoid customers getting home and hating their choice. That’s why their staff is educated on all things wine, and they list Wine Spectator’s rating for each bottle.

As for the future, Haas said her husband would like to hold intimate wine dinners in the basement, which they would turn into a wine cellar. Down the road, Haas would like The Rev to become “a favorite place for the people to go in the Chippewa Valley.”

The Rev, 204 S. Barstow St., is open 3pm-midnight or later Tuesday-Friday and noon-midnight or later on Saturdays. It will be closed Sundays and Mondays.

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