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Jumpstarting Detroit's Wine Culture: Detroit Wine School

Mindy Lopus, Detroit Wine School.
Mindy Lopus, Detroit Wine School.
Photo: Chris and Michelle Gerard

Detroit's restaurant scene may not be known for its heavy-hitting wine lists, but all that might be changing. Seeing a burgeoning excitement for wine culture among Detroit's young chefs and restaurateurs, (in no small part due to the three wine-centric restaurants she started), Mindy Lopus decided to exit the restaurant world and refocus her attention on her first passion: wine.

After selling Tallulah Wine Bar & Bistro and Bella Piatti (both in Birmingham) and Red Crown (in Grosse Pointe Park), Mindy Lopus launched the Detroit Wine School this past January. She noted a lack of anything like it in Detroit – a place for wine lovers and novices alike to learn and hone their wine skills – so she decided she would open the school to spur momentum into the Detroit wine scene.

A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley (where she was mentored by not one, but two, master sommeliers), Lopus has cast a wide net with the Detroit Wine School, reaching beyond the retail consumer market to offer her services to corporations and restaurateurs too.

The school provides single classes, as well as series, in wine basics, food pairings, wine regions, and blind tastings. Lopus also writes wine lists for several restaurants around town and notes that especially many of the younger restaurateurs are paying more attention to offering great wines, not just craft beer and cocktails.

She has also partnered with local chefs, such as those at Stockyard who host pop-up dinners all over metro Detroit, to provide appropriate wine and food pairings. She's also spreading her wine knowledge and talents at local events, such as an Australian wine dinner in Ann Arbor and an upcoming "Somm[elier] Slam" at Bacco, where she will pair wine with chef (and owner) Luciano Del Signore's food, and they will face off against another restaurateur and sommelier pair. Diners will vote on the winning team.

The school currently does not provide any professional certifications, however they are working toward becoming a certified Wine & Spirit Education Trust school, so they can offer students wine credentials that can be helpful across many facets of the industry. Lopus has been teaching the majority of classes herself, however she has a long list of prospective teachers who want to get involved in ramping up the school.

Lopus has truly found her calling in bringing wine education to Detroit. Leaving a sales and marketing career, moving through the restaurant industry, and finally jumping head first into the Detroit Wine School, it is clear that she is passionate about wine and is enthusiastic to share her love with the community. And Detroit seems ready.-By Hannah Lowe
· Detroit Wine School [Official Site]
· Detroit Wine School Official Page [Facebook]
· Cava Crazy: Spanish Bubbles in Detroit [-ED-]

Red Crown

15301 Kercheval Avenue, , MI 48230 (313) 822-3700 Visit Website

Detroit Wine School

71 Garfield, Detroit, MI 313.279.5499 Visit Website

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