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Paint and sip comes to ABQ

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque has a new business where customers can raise a glass and a paintbrush at the same time.

Painting with a Twist will open its first New Mexico studio at 8510 Montgomery NE, which is in a shopping center anchored by a Target store.

“The first classes are this Friday,” said owner Kim Berg, fessing up to a lifelong passion for painting.

“At Painting with a Twist, we teach fun art, not fine art,” added Berg, an Albuquerque resident for 18 years, who’s also bringing another twist to the business model.

The paint-and-sip industry has grown rapidly over the past five years, with studios setting up shop all over the country, including the Albuquerque area. During a typical paint-and-sip class, local artists — Berg has hired six — guide patrons as they learn how to paint an image onto a canvas they can take home and hang.

Customers can purchase wine or beer (or, if they prefer soda or bottled water) from the in-studio bar to help loosen things up while they paint and unleash the artist within. Classes can cost $35 to $65 a person, depending on session hours and format. Most are slated for the evening hours and weekends. The studio is targeting private parties for corporate outings, team building, bachelorette parties, sorority functions, date nights and special events, said Berg.

Initially, Painting with a Twist, one of over 300 stores in the U.S., will purvey a variety of vino from Black Mesa, sparkling wine from Gruet and brews from Bosque Brewing. The Albuquerque studio also will be the first store in the chain to make its own wine.

“We have a wine grower’s license,” said Berg, whose husband and business partner, Mike Berg, has the job overseeing this task. The goal is to create vintages that will be consumed on the premises. Already, six stainless steel casks are installed to incubate a red wine that will carry the brand name “Come and Van Gogh,” which also is the franchise’s limited liability corporation name.

“We won’t be stomping on grapes like ‘I Love Lucy,'” said Berg. Instead, the business will buy grape juice from other wineries. Filtered water, yeast nutrients, enzymes, tannins, acids and other fancy ingredients are added to help facilitate wine production and unique flavor profiles, an undertaking which should take several months. “A lot of our friends have volunteered to be tasters,” said Berg of the winery, which she said entails a hefty investment, loads of research and a huge commitment of time.

In addition to the $25,000 franchise fee, the Bergs bankrolled the build-out for the leased space, purchased supplies and other materials to launch the business.

Mandeville, La-based Painting with a Twist was founded in 2007 and has since grown to 350 locations in 39 states. It advertises itself as the nation’s largest paint-and sip franchise.

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