We are Oconomowoc’s first locally owned and operated Wine Bar, Bistro, Caterer and Wine Market. Our goal is to be the area’s premiere provider of exceptional wines and the food that accompanies it. With this goal in mind, our selections are continually being refined in the hopes that each visit to Wine Maniacs is as unique and memorable as the last.
As you can probably tell from our name, we’re crazy about grapes.
It is Wine Maniacs passion that was born right here in Oconomowoc. Wine Maniacs exists today because a group of friends decided they wanted to drink better wines than what was available in the areas, “Box Store” establishments.
Actually we wanted more than better, we wanted to have great wines at our disposal. The kind of wine you talk about the next day…Wine you remember years from now. Of course, being the frugal Maniacs we are, we certainly didn’t want to pay retail prices for all this fun. The rest, as they say, is history.
Head Wine Guy, Jeff Cox
Jeff Cox, alias the Head Wine Guy, has been associated with the wine industry for about 30 years.
He began Wine Maniacs in 2002 with a group of friends as a wine club because of the typical frustration in trying to buy great wines in typical liquor stores. You know the deal, the whole liquor store roulette thing, sometimes you get lucky, most times not so much.
Ironically (story way too long) he wound up owning a liquor store (Flannery’s II) in 2004 and that’s when Debbie joined in the fun. In all of this havoc however, Jeff never lost his consumer perspective. The end result is Jeff’s very unique approach to drinking, buying and ultimately enjoying wine. Jeff says “it’s impossible to know what you want if you cannot access and experience the possible.” Jeff as the HWG feels every wine experience should be fun and positive regardless of your appreciation of a specific wine. It is all about tasting and learning under the best possible circumstances. “People tend to take the wine experience far too seriously. After all the first wine was just grape juice someone left out too long”.
Debbie Bertrand, is what Jeff calls “the heart and soul of Wine Maniacs. The one that makes it all work.” Which makes perfect sense, since she grew up in the restaurant business. Debbie started in the restaurant as a youngster in Glastonbury, Connecticut where she help out at the restaurant where her Mom was the general manager & head waitress and has learned the trade inside and out over three decades – including an enlistment in the United States Navy – from bar tending to serving to handling the books. It was during her time as a server at Lac La Belle Country Club that she first met the Head Wine Guy, who turned her from a simple gin-drinker to way of the grape. “I learned wine from the back forward, like a farmer,” says Debbie. “On a trip to Italy I got crash course in making and understanding wine, starting with tasting the grape on the vine right through the pour into the glass. And I learned from the best producers in the world.”
One piece of wine advice Debbie has gleaned over the years that she shares with everyone: “Amarone goes with everything.” and if your not sure – just try it. Very simply stated, wine is an ingredient in your dish – they are designed to create the most amazing dance when paired together, and the only way to gather that information is to drink the right wine with each dish.
Debbie & Jeff believe you should never buy a wine you haven’t tried first and their favorite approach to wine drinkers that only drink one style of wine is,
why would you do that – do you only eat one style of food?