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The Scarlet & Black

Solera Wine Bar Opens



Colleen Klainert is bringing the big city to small-town Iowa with her new wine bar, Solera. A wine aficionado, Klainert has years of experience of both selling wine and running a wine bar.

“I sold wine to wine bars and wine restaurants in the Twin Cities for years, and what I missed most living in small town Iowa was a big city wine bar. I missed a wine bar that had 50 to 60 wine selections. I missed drinking out of clean, crystal clear glassware, just relaxing with some soft jazz in the background,” Klainert said.

Solera is a wine bar based around socializing. Everything in Solera—from the menu to the seating options—is designed to encourage relaxation and conversation. Klainert’s philosophy of looking at wine as something anyone can enjoy has deeply influenced the environment of Solera. According to Klainert, the world of wine should be accessible to anyone, not just connoisseurs. Ultimately, wine encompasses more than simply a drink.

Photo Credit


“I think its about making connections, about socializing. Wine facilitates socializing, but there is a common denominator … It facilitates getting to know strangers. Already here in three weeks, I have seen friendships starting across my bar,” she said.

With the interior of Solera, Klainert has created a fantastic setup. The bar is huge and gently lit, and a variety of different sets of furniture round out the space. The front seating area is wonderfully vintage, with 60s-style furnishing and accessories. Other seating areas have their own unique, artistic flavors, including some Mona Lisa and American Gothic inspired collages on the walls. Some gentle music adds a bit of nice background noise. Wine is served in beautiful glassware, with specific glasses for each type of wine, something Klainert believes is absolutely necessary for the best wine experience.

The menu at Solera offers a plethora of wines, with prices ranging from the economical to more luxurious choices better suited to celebrating. Most are sold by the bottle to facilitate sharing, but there are also nine by-the-glass options spread across the categories. There is also a limited food menu dedicated to options, such as breads, savory pastries and desserts that change regularly. Solera also offers a variety of high-quality beers either for individuals or for sharing. The menu is carefully curated by Klainert, who has honed her tastes for many years working within the wine industry.

Wine - Eric Mistry
Photo by Eric Mistry

“If  it’s not good enough for me, it’s not going on the menu,” Klainert said.

Overall, Grinnell is gaining a true gem with Solera’s opening. The space is beautiful and imaginatively decorated, the wine and beer selection is superb and it promises to be an excellent space to meet and interact with a variety of people. Klainert’s past experience and expertise are demonstrated in the details that pepper the wine bar, from the eclectic collection of furniture, to the plethora of proper glassware, to the name itself.

“Solera is a wine term. It implies a winemaking process by which some wine is preserved and blended into the next batch. I chose that word not only because it’s a wine word or because it’s easy to say, but I like philosophically taking something from your past and blending it into a better future,” Klainert said.

Solera impresses from the start, and its future looks bright.

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