Walter Pecile has always loved wine.

Raised on his family's winery in Argentina, which was established in 1875, Pecile learned to appreciate all things vino.

Later in his life - some 20 years ago - he moved to Iowa and worked in the computer science field. So when it came time to retire, he decided to occupy his time with something he was truly passionate about.

"I wanted a place to hang out," he said.

Two years ago, he went back to his roots and opened Mendoza Wine Bar in the new Coralville Center for the Performing Arts building.

"This is a place to just have a conversation, to chill out, enjoy a glass of wine, and talk about important and not important things."

He said he didn't so much open Mendoza, which he co-owns with his wife, to compete with other local establishments, but more so to fulfill his own desire for a place to kick back and relax.

"It's our own style," he said. "What you get here is Mendoza time. Relax. Chill out. Treat yourself and enjoy what you are doing right now. I'm trying to provide different options to the consumer."

Mendoza Wine Bar is open Wednesday through Saturday in the evenings. It is known for featuring live music featuring local musicians every Thursday through Saturday and an open mic night on the second Wednesday of each month. It also showcases work by local artists on the walls.

You won't find a TV.

"This is not a sports bar," he says.

Pecile - who has operated restaurants in other parts of the world including Barcelona and Argentina - said Mendoza uses organic produce and cooks all it menu items fresh, including pizzas and tapas. Once a month it offers a four course wine and food pairing meal, which Pecile said is "an international gastronomical experience."

Of course the wine is always the main attraction at Mendoza Wine Bar. And the offerings are meant to be a "good representation of wines from all over the world," said Pecile, noting wines from California, France, Space, Italy and Chile are all on the menu.

"We are well priced and try to offer something you can't get elsewhere."

Pecile enjoys teaching people about the different wine options when they stop in for a glass or two. "The idea is to provide an education," he said. "People get to know or be less afraid of labels. I tell them it's OK to ask questions. And I believe there is a type of wine for everyone."

Pecile said he genuinely enjoys all aspects of his job - from buying the groceries to taking reservations.

"This is like a stress reliever," he said.

"When you own a place you wear so many hats from cleaning the floors to being the celebrity," he said.

And while he certainly loves to sit with customers and enjoy some wine and conversation, he maintains that he is "not that important."

The wine bar would work with or without him, he said.

"In reality the people are coming here for the food and wine, the music and the atmosphere," he said. "Come here and get a glass of wine, hang out with friends and listen to music. It's like the living room of your own home without the hassle of cleaning up."


WHAT: Mendoza Wine Bar

WHERE: 1301 Fifth St. Suite 105, Coralville

CONTACT: (319) 333-1291

OPEN: 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

HAPPY HOUR: 5:30 to 7 p.m. daily