BELTON — On a recent Saturday afternoon, the weather was cloudy, cool and windy but that didn’t keep wine lovers from sipping wine on the covered patio at Nolan Creek Winery in downtown Belton.
The wine bar opened just two months ago at The Gin at Nolan Creek, but Phil Monge, co-owner with his wife, Vira Chudasma, said business has been brisk thanks to word-of-mouth advertising and happy accidents.
James Currington, a retired Army veteran from Copperas Cove, discovered Nolan Creek Winery by accident when he was visiting The Gin complex with his wife and friends.
“We were getting lunch, and they were getting massages,” Currington said. “We were standing outside the spa and turned left (and said) ‘A winery? Let’s go!’”
Nolan Creek Winery offers imported and domestic wines by the bottle, glass or case in a comfortable and classy environment complete with wide marble countertops, leather recliners and settees, candlelit tables for two or four, soft lighting, and classic jazz and R&B on the stereo. The covered patio looks out over Nolan Creek and the historic cotton-gin-turned-restaurant next door. Customers in jeans and sandals fit in as well as those wearing coats, ties and cocktail dresses.
“We want you to come in here, relax and enjoy some drinks,” Monge said. “Leave anything that’s bothering you outside.”
Nolan Creek Winery offers a rotating wine flight of three samplings of wine from around the world for $10. Monge said there is no order to wine tasting. “Start at the end, start in the middle, there’s no rules on drinking wine,” he said. “We want to make sure you’re tasting wine the way it’s supposed to be tasted.”
Monge grew up in South Dakota and enlisted in the Army when he was 19. He and Chudasma moved to Belton when he was stationed at Fort Hood, and he plans to retire from the Army in five years.
“No matter what happens or where they send me next — we’ve been through a couple deployments — she is going to keep this going,” Monge said.
Chudasma left a career in engineering and finance to open the wine bar with her husband, and her talents help to reduce costs in running the business, they said. Chudasma said she hopes to be an inspiration to other military families.
“I just hope this is refreshing and inspiring for others.”
Wine Tasting Room Manager Tabatha Hancock has worked at Nolan Creek Winery since the soft opening two months ago. She gained her wine experience revamping and rebuilding restaurants in Phoenix, she said.
“I’ve actually been in the restaurant industry for 6½ years, so I’ve been around wine for a long time now.”
Although Monge and Chudasma are quick to tell customers that Nolan Creek Winery is a wine bar and not a winery, they do make their own wine and hope to operate a vineyard some day.
“I would love to do that, but there’s only so much I can take on my plate right now,” Chudasma said.
On that note, next week Nolan Creek Winery will begin serving soups, paninis and sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The wine bar, at 219 East St., Suite C, Belton, is open from 1 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 1 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.