2A Wine Merchants has taken its home in the Third Ward capturing a modern yet rustic style that is completely its own. While it is a store, the owner Rob Levin wants to make a space that anyone can feel comfortable going to and break the somewhat snobby stigma behind wine culture.
Levin has lived in Milwaukee for about a decade and could not think of anywhere better to start his business. “I love Milwaukee, I love the humbleness of it,” says Levin. In a state that idolizes beer as a bubbly deity, where some may only drink Wisconsin beer religiously, it will be no small feat to show Milwaukeeans all the work it takes to bring that bottle of wine to their tables. Fortunately, Levin believes there is a solid base of wine drinkers in Milwaukee, and a city full of people who want to try something new.
“Although it is small, it is strong and united and gritty,” said Levin. “We just want to get people comfortable, who always drink High Life, or whatever it is at dinner and simply break people’s boundaries to try something new.”
In the name of trying something new, Levin and his business partner Tony Bisciglia left their previous roles to start their store 2A Wine Merchants, where 2A stands for second act. With records lining their walls and a turn table smack-dab in the middle of the display, Levin wants to incorporate the music he grew up on and hopes it will resonate with others. “We love the way an LP sounds, like back in the day I had pumas with fat laces and danced on a piece of cardboard, and Tony was a DJ in clubs, so it’s just in our blood,” said Levin.
Levin also prides himself of sticking to small wineries for his supply. “Some of these smaller people, who it’s their passion and it’s their love and it’s their family’s business and it is just them out there grinding every day,” said Levin. There will be a select number of other alcohols that will also be sold at 2A, but they will also be from small businesses. Bourbon from small distilleries on Bourbon trail, Wisconsin beer, and small-town liquors. But don’t be confused, this is a wine shop first.
Of course, you can taste the wines at the tasting bar, but there will also be charcuterie boards full of Wisconsin cheeses, meats and crackers. They will be stocked with less expensive bottles of wine, around $12, and more expensive wines that are less common.
Sticking to a personalized touch when you come to 2A, the experts can help you pick out the perfect wine, whether you are experienced or trying it for the first time. “We aren’t here to change the world; we are here to have another outlet for people to feel and taste and educate themselves, and feel comfortable in it,” said Levin.
A lot of thought and detail is going into the store and was designed by Three Sixty, a Milwaukee-based design company. “It will be cool, it will be funky, and there will be little spots where you think ‘I never noticed this before,’” said Levin. He does not want it to be a normal retail store, he wants to build an experience that will get people interested in wine.