Taste of the Vine

(December 2014) – From the time that Bob Maile first bought the building that currently houses his business, Madison Table and Light, he felt that this space was perfect for some kind of restaurant, dining or drinking establishment. He was certain that he’d eventually have something else there.
Finally, that time has come. In December, Maile brings the opening of Madison’s first wine bar: Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar, located in the former Madison Table and Light store at 323 E. Main St.

Photo by Lisa Newlin

Bob Maile, owner of Madison
Table and Light, plans an official December opening of his new Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar, inside his existing furniture business at 323 E. Main St., Madison, Ind.
It will be Madison’s first wine bar.

Maile said he wanted to do something new, something simple. At Rembrandt’s Gallery & Wine Bar, the wines will be the entertainment. Rembrandt’s wine distributor is from France and deals with smaller, artisan wineries from around the world.
He goes around the world, trying out wines from smaller wineries that make relatively little known handcrafted wines, usually where the vintner is the owner. If it’s a wine that’s on the grocery store shelf, this distributor doesn’t want to carry it, and neither will Rembrandt’s.
On the topic of wine choices, Maile defers to Roxi Burns, the representative for this distributor. In this role, she is going to be very influential in the choices that are made, Maile says, especially in these early stages where he is still learning.
Maile, a member of the newly formed Madison Area Arts Alliance, said the wine bar should be a significant contribution to Madison’s emerging persona as an important artistic and cultural center. “It’s almost like the timing is perfect for it. Let’s face it, we’re still one of Indiana’s best kept secrets here.”
Madison Area Arts Alliance Interim Executive Director Kim Nyberg said she welcomes the new wine bar as another Madison attraction. “Rembrandt’s is a great addition to downtown Madison,” she said.

Photo by Don Ward

Bob Maile sells his handcrafted furniture and items from 50 regional artisans at Madison Table & Light.

“The whole place illustrates the creative vibe we have going in Madison – the cool interior, custom tables and millwork, the specialty painting on the plaster walls coupled with a gallery full of interesting original art pieces and cozy atmosphere complements the existing galleries and specialty shops. It helps to enrich the whole experience for the visitors, as well as, the folks who live here.”
The wine bar atmosphere is that of a cozy, comfortable, relaxing place to come where you can just kick back, have a nice glass of wine and some wood-fired pizza, along with a quiet background of acoustic music.
At first, this will all be indoors, but as soon as the weather permits, Maile plans to have al fresco dining both in the front and, later, at the back of the store.
Maile will continue to sell handcrafted furniture through his Madison Table and Light, with work from nearly 50 area artisans: potters, woodworkers and painters. It’s not a wine bar with an art gallery, it’s an art gallery with a wine bar in it. That’s the way Maile is approaching it, and the entire wine bar was designed to reflect that.
He says he is putting in his heartfelt effort to raise Madison to the next level by providing a space that reflects the whole feeling of the town. “It’s a neat town, this is a neat building and a neat space. I don’t know if ‘neat’ is the right word, but it’s just very unique and special, so we’re trying to do our part in making Madison into a special place.”
As for the space itself, Maile worked to embellish the space as it already is into a kind of “rustic elegance.” Most of the gallery items were moved over to one half of the retail space and the walls were repainted. Maile self-deprecatingly says that he sat down and designed the bar itself as an expression of creative outlet. What he has created is a gorgeous piece of woodwork. The top of the bar is made from Indiana Walnut with new boards that are made to look old with Madison Table and Light’s signature grooves from the large circular saw blades that are rare to find these days. The sides and trim of the bar, as well as the fireplace mantle, are made out of 200-year-old black gum that were taken down from the third floor ceiling of his building where they’ve been renovating.
Another interesting historic aspect of the building and its wine bar is the back bar. “This came from Pat Cornett, who is our rocking chair specialist,” Maile said. “It is mahogany, and it came out of a building that was built in 1860 in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and based on the size of the slab, and the age of the building when it was installed. We figure that the tree had to have started growing in the 1600s.”
Maile plans to begin with opening the wine bar on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 9 p.m., maybe two or three nights a week, in addition to selling wine during the regular gallery hours of noon to 5 p.m. during the week. Once that is running smoothly, he plans to extend the hours to include a “happy hour” for people wanting to stop by in the early evening and get a drink after work.
“It’s not work if you love it,” Maile says. “There are aspects of it that, you know, you prefer not to have to do, but that’s with everything. This is like a grand adventure for me. Every 10-15 years I’ve got to be doing something else. It’s sort of like my baby.”

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