Matthews resident Fabien Duquesne shares his 20 year passion for the enjoyment of wine and wine education by opening Grapes, a wine bar in the Sycamore Commons shopping center.
Duquesne said he has a simple vision for Grapes: “a comfortable home away from home where people can come in with friends or with a laptop to relax and enjoy a glass of wine.”
“Wine is all about fun and education” said Duquesne, who plans to host classes and wine tastings.
He has several events scheduled for November and December and a holiday party “winter wonderland wine tasting” planned for Dec. 21 featuring 12 wines, appetizers and live music.
Duquesne, 41, was born in the town of Thonon-les-Bains near the French Alps on the border of Switzerland. He said that as a child he wanted to come to the United States because he believed it was “a place for opportunity.”
He had relatives living in the U.S. and visited often. At 16, lived with a host family and attended a Westport, Conn., high school for a year.
He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1993 with a master’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and then returned to France to serve in the army.
After working in director positions at two private clubs in Paris and living in Montreal, he returned to the U.S. and moved to Lake Norman in 2004.
With his extensive knowledge of classic French table-side food preparation and service, he was hired as general manager to open Bentley’s on 27, Charlotte. He hired staff and provided extensive training to have the 245-seat restaurant up and running in five weeks.
He moved to Matthews in 2007 and most recently worked in hotel and restaurant management positions at The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge and Uptown’s Westin Hotel, respectively, before opening Grapes in June.
A supporter of local business, Duquesne buys all his breads from Nova’s Bakery and his produce from the Matthews farmers market.
He also serves North Carolina Vineyard Childress wines by the glass and said that they are the first wine seller in North Carolina to offer Childress wines in pressurized kegs.
The menu offers 46 wines by the glass starting at $5 and more than 250 wines by the bottle from all around the world, starting at $15. In addition to wine, there is beer by the bottle and a light menu which includes homemade hummus, bruschetta, and a selection of cheese, flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches. The appetizers range from $6-$14.
“I know Matthews was the right choice for my business,” he said. “I feel that the people in this community are really interested in learning more about wine.” He said he is delighted to share his vision with friends and neighbors.
Grapes Wine Bar is also available for private parties and events.