Small Business Spotlight: Peak of the Vine

Nikola and Michelle Phoenix own Peak of the Vine, a wine lounge and shop in downtown Apex.

Nikola and Michelle Phoenix own Peak of the Vine — a combination wine shop, wine lounge, specialty food store and music venue located in downtown Apex.

But like many residents of western Wake County, they moved here from somewhere else. The couple was living in Los Angeles, Michelle working as a nurse and Nikola running a restaurant in Redondo Beach. Looking for a more family-friendly environment, they settled in the Triangle.

“We had traveled to a few other states, and we were trying to find somewhere affordable to buy a house and raise our kids,” said Michele Phoenix. 

“We came to Apex to raise our kids and live a good life.”

Heather Taylor Petrovich, with Peak City Podcast, recently spoke with Nikola and Michelle Phoenix about the business and their loyal customers. 

How did you get here

M: On our first anniversary, we went to Napa, we went into this wine and cheese restaurant, and it was really cute and nice. We spoke about it, like, “One day we’re going to open a wine bar, with wine and cheeses, specialty cheeses, crackers and meats.” That was 13 years ago. 

When did you open the wine bar here

N: It’s a wine shop, lounge kind of thing. We don’t like to call it a wine bar. The wine lounge and retail shop, we opened in 2016 — February 2016.

Let’s talk a little bit about COVID. You were still selling wine and delivering wine, so how did you survive the pandemic?

N: We did whatever we could have done at the time. That’s why we are retail, and we were able to sustain it, opening as a retail shop only. 

M: We also have a wine club. We have wine club members, and they were very supportive to us and would come in and get their wine. Then they would order (more) wine, and we’d deliver it.

Tell me more about that. I had no idea about the wine club.

N: The Wine Club is part of our whole Peak of the Vine wine experience. We represent small productions and smaller state wineries, so they’re not mass produced. What the wine club gives you is you can taste a bunch of wines. Three nights a week we have representatives, sommeliers and all kinds of stuff — on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It’s a wine tasting, and wine club members get to taste it for free. Usually it costs money, depending on the wines. They also get discounts on the bottles, and bottles of wine as well.

It becomes a very affordable way to experience good wine for less price. If you’re Tier 3, which is the most popular, you get three bottles a month. After all is said and done, you’re getting wines for less than at the grocery store. You get much more quality, organic, estate wines, slow production. They’re not mass produced; there’s not a bunch of stuff in it to be what we call the Doritos wines.

It’s a small community; that’s why we like Apex. It brings a lot to the community. People come in, meet here for the wine tastings. The wine club members interact; it’s become more of a social gathering. We have food trucks as well on those nights. 

What is your favorite thing about owning the business?

M: The people’s excitement, they love it, they tell us. They make friends here. It’s part of being in a community, and we’ve had a lot of couples tell us, “We moved here because of you guys!”

N: We’re the tipping point, like she said. People are like, “I can’t believe there’s something like this here!”

Peak of the Vine
301 N. Salem St., Suite 102, Apex
(919) 267-9828

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