Wine bars are coming into their own with many new venues opening in cities across the U.S. They’re offering an array of bottles and glass pours, along with, typically, a small, curated food menu.

Wine bars are appearing in a variety of styles, from the very modern to old school and are designed carefully, highlighting the very beverage they’re celebrating.

Canopy Wine Lounge

Palm Springs, Calif.

If Canopy Wine Lounge in downtown Palm Springs were transplanted to another city, guests would still feel they were in the heart of this desert town.

Canopy features the city’s signature mid-century modern decor but subtly. “We wanted it to feel nostalgic but very timeless,” says Christopher Kennedy, founder of Christopher Kennedy Inc., based in Palm Springs, who designed the space.

Canopy’s defining feature is a large desert landscape that covers the entire back bar. This image features native cactus and plants in natural tones with pops of red desert flowers, echoing the look of red wine. The mural was painted for the lounge then printed on wallpaper and applied, but it looks like a mural.

The natural tones with pops of color are found throughout the space, a hallmark of mid-century modern design. Terracotta oranges, greens and browns are interspersed with shots of yellow, blue and white, making the space very modern and clean. “We wanted to use deep saturated hues that were inspired by the earth because wine comes from the earth,” Kennedy says.

The warm walls extend into a showpiece wine display. “We wanted to display the wine in an elegant way that became part of the feeling of the space,” Kennedy says.

With different styles of furniture throughout, Canopy feels very intimate. “We wanted it to feel like a living room and that you were being invited into a residential home,” Kennedy says.

Kennedy’s over-arching goal when designing the space was to create somewhere guests “want to “sit and sip and stay a while.”

Canopy Wine Lounge has a distinctly Palm Springs vibe with a strongly residential scale. Images courtesy of Joan Allen

Wine Grotto

Plymouth, Mich.

Underneath Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth, Mich., sits The Wine Grotto. It opened last fall, taking full advantage of what was a rarely used space.

It has an underground feel, complete with arches and a medieval-style candelabra, so guests feel they’ve stepped back in time — until they glimpse the modern touches throughout that keep the grotto’s feet firmly in the 21st century.

Previously, this 2,700-square-foot space featured shag carpeting and a dreary atmosphere, says Jeff Strasser of Jeffrey Strasser Interior Design, Orlando, Fla.

Strasser modernized it by painting the arches and ceilings white and having a local artist stencil the undersides. The artist also painted the groins brown and made them look like wood to match the bar. Strasser put in floor lighting to shine up and highlight the groins and arches.

The central bar has a modern feel with glass shelving and is illuminated from behind with blue light. Bar stools covered with hair-on-hide leather surround the bar on three sides.

The Wine Grotto has many small rooms, and there are different moods throughout, including an area surrounding a piano that’s often in use. There are couches to lounge on, high-top chairs and tables and different antique rugs “to make it feel loungey and have more of a residential feel, cozy, warm, moody,” Strasser says.

There are five stained glass pieces throughout the Grotto, including in one of the entrance doors. “There’s a pair of beautiful doors that you reach after you’ve gone down a stairway and it leads you to these stained-glass doors that are super charming,” says Strasser.

Color is abundant at the Wine Grotto. While the bar is light and bright, as are the bar stools, some areas are darker, and there are pops of color, especially red, linking with red wine, throughout. A metallic bronze grid features red curves; there’s a big red couch, a red leather front to the bar, red glassware, and red in some upholstery, paintings and rugs.

Largely the space is lit by chandeliers but there are also floor lamps “to give it that cozy, residential mood,” Strasser says. There are also brass lamps at the bar and LED battery-operated lamps in brushed gold on the tables.

“We really wanted to emphasize the age and the history behind the bar. But with the furnishings we wanted to have a cooler, hip feel,” Strasser says. The Wine Grotto can be intimate or convivial, he says, pointing particularly to the red couch. “With this long red sofa, sometimes you’re forced to sit by other people. It can force conversation and meeting new people.”

Images courtesy of Captured By Kelsey

Joui Wine

Dayton, Ohio

Joui Wine is a 2,000-square-foot space celebrating all things wine, as illustrated in its name which means "Enjoy." Part wine bar, part retail wine shop, the space is owned by Lauren Gay, who trumpets female-produced and organic wines.

David Kittredge and Ginger Roddick, both partners of The Idea Collective in Dayton, designed Joui, aiming to make it a feminine space that’s flowy, bright, dreamy and fun.

The venue opened in December. When guests enter the long, narrow space, they are greeted with a seating area for 12 to 14 people. Then guests enter the bar area where an unusual feature sits at the end of the bar – a circular bar top with four seats “so people can look at each other instead of being next to each other” Roddick says. “You get the energy of the bar, but you get to face your friends.” This space also creates a welcoming spot if Gay is doing an event, says Kittredge. “It’s a great place for a big flower display and cocktails set out.”

Further back is a seating area for four and more bar seating, as well as a retail wine space with all merchandising furniture on casters so they can be moved for events.

Murals are a strong element at Joui, with a modern design at the front seating area, and eventually, another one toward the back. “We enjoy letting a space breathe when it initially opens, so we deliberately leave areas to be completed as the business finds its personality and needs,” Roddick says. There are also murals in the bathrooms, where a bright, cheerful and very modern design covers the walls and ceiling.

Joui manages to hearken back to the '60s and '70s while still feeling modern. The colors are mostly soft greens, yellows and pinks, with lots of natural wood.

And adding to the femininity and also evoking wine bottles, there are curves everywhere — in the pill-shaped cut-outs in the back bar (which hold bottles and glasses); in a big circular cut-out by the front seating area that allows passersby to look straight into the space and see the bar; in curves that are painted on the wall at the front; and in curving metal tubes reaching across the ceiling from the back bar to a retail wine area opposite, reminiscent of the metal bands around wine barrels.

A space with so many gentle curves and hues doesn’t need a lot of softening, but The Idea Collective brought in some plants, mostly cactus and succulents, along with some hanging baskets. “Greenery brings a space to life,” says Roddick. “Mid-century modern is open and breezy and we’re in Dayton, which has a lot of grey days, so it was important that we brought that pop of life and warmth into the space.” 

Images courtesy of Joui Wine