Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual
The last thing Jason and Keikilani McKay want is for someone to come into their wine bar and feel unwelcome. Their idea for Cantine Winepub, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, is to offer unique lesser-known wines and craft beers, but without all the elitism and pretension people associate with wine obsession. We interviewed Jason about how he manages to pull this off, and also about why they have wines on tap—eight, to be precise.
How do you create a snob-free zone?
We want to create a really casual, comfortable space and environment, a gathering place for people to chill out and relax—the kind of people that we have linger for hours, and that’s what we want. We’ve got comfortable couches, comfortable chairs—we just wanted to create a real living-room type atmosphere. We try to focus on small-production wineries and craft breweries and things like that that are not in big box stores, that people may or may not have heard of, but we like to talk to people about what they like instead of being snobby about the issue. We ask people what types of wines they prefer and then we’re happy to talk about them or let people decide for themselves. It’s kind of the nature of the casual atmosphere.
Why serve wine on tap?
There are lots of advantages, most of all consistency. The kegs never see the light of day, as a bottle might. There’s no UV exposure, it’s temperature controlled, so you’re getting a consistent glass. Sometimes if you’re ordering a glass from the bottle, you don’t know if it was opened just then or yesterday, or two days ago. Also the price, the quality of the wines are just as pure, but price per glass is generally a couple dollars cheaper because you’re not paying for bottles and labels or even corks. The savings get passed on to the customers.
How do you choose which wines to serve?
My wife and I we have a passion for wine and food culture. We hand-select new things to try. We decide if people would be excited about them or not. So it’s a fun trial and error kind of thing. It’s the fun part of the job! We just want to expose people to more varietals and more types of wine and smaller producers that may not necessarily get their name out there. We try to pick those ones that you can’t normally find, but we have a few mainstays that we keep on tap.
8050 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 612-6191, cantinewinepub.com.
TAPAS TIME Jason McKay, co-owner of Cantine winepub in Aptos, with a plate of crushed spring peas and mint, burrata and crostini. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER