The grape stomp is quickly becoming a favorite thing to do at the Iowa State Fair.
Food trucks have become a common sight around the Des Moines metro. Now local wine lovers are seeing a similar concept.
Dena Fife, 39, fell in love with the idea that many wineries in California and Oregon have their own mobile wine bars. About a year and a half ago the Fifes bought a 1968 Volkswagen bus and built their own “wine truck.”
The first mobile wine bar, opening in May of this year, is The Whimsical Wine Trailer — a decorated trailer that brings catered wine experiences to any event.
But The Wine Wagen is now open for business and can be found each Tuesday in July at Nights in the Heights, a concert series at Colby Park at 6900 School Street in Windsor Heights.
The menu includes six white wines and six reds served in recyclable cups for $5-$7 per 5-ounce pour. Reserve and higher-end wines will also be available in a range of varietals and regions that will rotate with the seasons.Sparkling wines, prosecco, canned wines and select beers are also available.
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“There’s nothing like it in Des Moines,” Darren Fife, 40, said. “You get different craft beers and beer choices at every festival and event that you go to, but nobody’s focused on wine and we wanted to make that our focus.”
The Wine Wagen, a mobile wine bar, was made from a 1968 Volkswagen Bus. (Photo: The Wine Wagen/Special to the Register)
Dena Fife said securing a permit was a bit of a challenge, but they’re approved to sell at the Windsor Heights concert series and hope to expand to more community events, festivals and private catering functions soon.
“When we went to the Iowa Alcohol Beverage Division, they really weren’t quite sure how to handle us,” she said. “Right now, we are doing an outdoor license on an event basis.”
“It’s just so new at this point and so new to us, that we’re just kind of excited to see where it takes us,” Darren said. “We just want to see what develops and what we can turn this into.”
Darren, an Ankeny native, owns a small environmental regulation compliance company called EcoSource and works with the EPA and Iowa DNR on in-state projects.
His father is Larry Fife, known locally as the Ring King, offering fresh onion rings, sweet potato fries, curly fries, tenderloins and jambalaya at farmers markets and food festivals around town.
Related: The ultimate guide to patio dining in the Des Moines metro
Dena is a Drake graduate, originally from New Zealand, whose military retiree father is from Windsor Heights. She is an online training designer and consultant and currently works for the University of Iowa.
The Wine Wagen, a mobile wine bar housed in a 1978 Volkswagen bus, is the first of its kind in Iowa. (Photo: The Wine Wagen/Special to the Register)
Dena and Darren are working with local wine distributors to help stock their truck. “We’re trying to find a balance between what wine people like to drink and what we like to drink,” Darren said, laughing. “That’s a pretty difficult thing to find.”
The Wine Wagen
Contact: (515) 710-2255; Facebook
The Whimsical Wine Trailer
Contact: (515) 291-8834; Facebook
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