For Ray and Kathy Zuniga, the path to opening was a long one.
The Zunigas have been involved in a number of businesses over the course of their marriage, including various retail stores and White Hen franchises, but their passion for wine finally caught up to them.
Although Kathy has been a wine lover her entire life, she converted Ray only 12 years ago, during their 20th anniversary trip to Napa Valley. It was then that the couple began the journey that would culminate about 10 years later with the opening of The Village Cellar in the space formerly occupied by A Taste of Vino at 24 W. Chicago Ave.
Ray said that visiting those California wineries, particularly those that were family-run, inspired him to turn a hobby into a business.
"[Kathy and I] have a passion for it. We enjoy wine," he said. "I believe that wines have a story to tell."
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With The Village Cellar up and running, the Zunigas now have the ability to share plenty of such stories. Although the shop is primarily a retail store, where customers can come in to find the perfect wine, the Zunigas also use the space for wine tastings and social events such as birthday parties and meetings.
The shop owners often get food from local restaurants delivered so customers can eat while enjoying wine at the shop, and cheese and crackers are always for sale alongside the Zunigas' wine and beer selection.
As if the shopping experience didn't sound fun enough, the Zunigas have turned The Village Cellar into a lively weekend hotspot; live music acts play on Saturday nights from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Ray enjoys the social aspect of his business, which includes getting to know the Hinsdale residents who have become regulars.
"I like that people here support the businesses," Ray said. "It's a community feel, and I like that people walk into town. People in Hinsdale appreciate good customer service."
Zuniga also likes to hear about his customers' personal wine tastes.
"Everyone has their own favorite," he said. "I like to talk to people about their reasons why."
Those hoping to learn what the expert's favorite wine is, though, are out of luck.
Says Zuniga, "They're all my favorite."