Dining With Denise Neil

Owner of new Wichita-based sangria business is earning fans, one free sample at a time

Sangria is a perfect summertime drink, but to enjoy it properly, you have to mix up your own or order it at a restaurant.

Not in Wichita, though. A new business has recently opened near Second and Cleveland that offers Wichita-made sangria in three different flavors, sold by the bottle.

It’s called Simply Sangria Wine Co., and it’s set up in a storefront at 243 N. Cleveland. Owner Brian Miller, who had a career in law enforcement, also has a booth every Saturday at the Old Town Farmers’ Market, where he reports he always sells out.

Miller said he used to make sangria, which for the uninitiated is punch that features wine mixed with fruit and spices, for family gatherings. His was exceptionally good, his relatives told him, and his son and niece kept urging him to bottle and sell it.

“Every year, it seemed like I was making more wine and they were drinking more wine,” he said.

Simply Sangria Co. sells three styles of bottled sangria, though more flavors are on the way. Denise Neil The Wichita Eagle

He got his licensing and came up with three recipes — one for a blackberry sangria, one for a tropical white sangria flavored with pineapple and citrus, and one for a classic white sans citrus but with six other fruits and spices. He opened the storefront in March.

Stop by and he’ll give you a free sample.

Miller mixes the sangria and portions it into 750 milliliter bottles at the shop. He purchases the wine from local and regional producers then blends it with his own secret ingredients. The average price is $18.40 a bottle.

By the end of July, he plans to introduce several new flavors, including peach, watermelon, strawberry and raspberry. He’s also formulating some recipes for a couple of drier wines.

So far, he is focusing on retail sales from his shop and the farmer’s market, Miller said, but he’s also starting to sell his sangria to local restaurants who want to serve it. Eventually, he’ll get a mail order business started, he said.

He’s been winning over people who don’t event think they like wine, but they’ll return to buy the sangria for dinner parties, showers and other events, he said.

“We have had people from all walks of life,” he said. “I‘ve had people that aren’t even wine drinkers that have tried it and said, ‘Hey, this is good.’”

The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The Old Town Farmers’ Market at 835 E. First, where Miller sets up each week, is from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through the summer and early fall.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.