In St. Louis we are incredibly fortunate to have the 33 Wine Bar, an eight-year-old institution tucked into Lafayette Square. It is minimalist – no TV, no smoking, no sign to proclaim its existence. What it does contain is our city’s best wine list at very fair prices, a wonderful patio and an exceedingly knowledgable staff of three who I let choose my wine (a responsibility that I do not often relent).
As of today, the founder and owner of 33, Jake Hafner, has taken the first step to moving on from the building that was his life for those eight years. The business is truly a reflection of his personality – subtle, stylish and full of substance. It is a haven for those who relish the complexity of wine, both on the label and in the glass, but have not lost sight of its hedonism.
I heard the news late last night and stopped by 33 this evening after leaving work in a snow storm. I felt the need to congratulate Jake, and to thank him as well. The man has hardly had a day off in the last eight years, let alone a vacation. I am truly indebted to him for the wonderful memories I have accumulated there thus far. I also had to get one more recommendation from him. I came away with a 2001 Helmut Mathern Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese (which is the greatest name for a vineyard this side of Naylor Dry Hole in California) for $27.
My other intention was to meet the new proprietor of the business, Jeff Stettner, who is a close friend of Jake’s. He was in the industry in California before moving to St. Louis four years ago. It sounds as though he has exciting developments in store, and I came away with the impression that the business and its integrity are in good hands. I look forward his recommendations and hospitality.
For those of you who have enjoyed a glass or three at 33, raise your next to Jake.