The Aardvark Wine Lounge brings a little slice of South Africa to downtown Green Bay.
The self-serve wine bar owned by South Africa native Lee-Ann Klingsporn offers a variety of New World wines. These are produced outside of the more “standard” wine-producing regions of the world, with a special emphasis placed on South African wine.
“It’s a cozy, intimate atmosphere where people can come and relax and enjoy wine at their own leisure,” Klingsporn says.
As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, Klingsporn always wanted to start her own business. While living in Israel, she became intrigued by the self-serve wine concept — where customers can select a wine, serving size and fill their own glass at a high-tech machine — after visiting a wine bar there. She moved to the United States in 2015 and opened Aardvark in early 2017.
Klingsporn’s entrepreneurial itch was strong, but she admits that there was something else driving her desire to open the business.
“The initial reason for opening the wine bar was because I missed South Africa,” she says. “I missed the wine, the food and the people. I wanted to bring a bit of my home to Green Bay.”
By doing that, Klingsporn has not only opened a business she loves, but she’s also given herself the opportunity to connect with other South Africans in the area and even speak in her native tongue.
“I attracted a lot of other South Africans,” she says. “It’s very nostalgic for them and now, on a regular basis, I speak Afrikaans to somebody who comes in.”
Klingsporn looks forward to growing Aardvark’s wine club and hosting more events in its unique downtown space.
“It’s hard to have your own business, but it’s also rewarding,” Klingsporn says. “If you can see the fruits of your labor, it’s very inspirational.”