Sonic Explorations

Pamela Sosnowski on March 29th, 2019

A New Wine and Listening Room Opens in Downtown Andover

Chris Bachmann and Jenny Schneidewent sensed a need in downtown Andover as they put together plans for the wine and music bar that’s become perhaps the town’s hippest new spot for sipping and socializing. But what’s behind its name: Theory Wine Bar + Listening Room?

“It speaks to exploration,” Bachmann says, explaining how he and Schneidewent chose the name. “You have a theory and you do more things to explore it, prove it, and that comes with both wine and exposing yourself to things you may not have thought of.” 

Chris Bachmann and Jenny Schneidewent opened Theory Wine Bar + Listening Room in the midst of the gas explosion crisis. Despite the rocky beginning, the bar’s easy vibe and exceptional sound system make Theory a promising addition to downtown Andover. Photo by Kevin Harkins.

Theory is located at 10 Main St. in a 2,600-square-foot space formerly occupied by Bruegger’s Bagels. The wine and music bar features live performances by local talent and an expansive wine list curated from small boutique wineries. Bachmann and Schneidewent researched a few other commercial spaces before deciding that Andover’s Main Street was overdue for a venue like theirs. 

“Andover is a commuter town,” Bachmann says. “If you want to see a show, you don’t want to go all the way back into the city. Maybe you just want to go 10 minutes downtown, but there was no place to do that around here.”

On a chilly January night three weeks after its official opening, Bachmann’s hunch was being validated. By 8 p.m., it was standing room only at Theory’s sleek wraparound bar as the crowd waited for the evening’s live act to hit the stage. The bartenders offered wine samples and made recommendations. 

At Theory, you can enjoy small bites such as cheese and charcuterie boards, tapenade, balsamic tomato and basil bruschetta, and artisan chocolates from Ovedia, an espresso cafe in Amesbury. With more than 50 wine options, there’s something for every aficionado, whether they’re into ticklish Italian proseccos or earthy red blends from California. A small selection of craft beer and nonalcoholic beverages is available.

The wine menu focuses on smaller producers. The emphasis, in the words of Schneidewent, is on sustainability and craft. Photo by Kevin Harkins.

Bachmann and Schneidewent felt overdue for a change when they came up with the idea for Theory. Bachmann, a bassist since his high school days, entered the information technology field while performing and recording with the rock band Under Atoms (UnderAtoms.com). He was climbing the corporate ladder, but his daily commute from Watertown to Boston at the time, plus the managerial demands of his job, became too stressful. 

“I was tired,” he says. “You only have so many days left on the planet.” 

When Bachmann’s father — an Andover teacher for more than 40 years — died, Bachmann and Schneidewent moved to Andover, and Bachmann decided to take a year off from his career to determine his next step. Wine, another passion of his since the ’90s, served as inspiration. He developed a friendship with Redstone Liquors owner Kamal Ganglani, who would refer customers to Bachmann for wine recommendations whenever he was in the store. Bachmann took a job at the Andover location and continued to learn all he could. 

Schneidewent, a Milwaukee-raised metal sculpture artist and licensed massage therapist, now oversees Theory’s wine selection and food options. She enjoys introducing customers to unique new wines. 

Left: It should come as no surprise, based on this image, that Theory is an audiophile’s dream. The custom sound system was created by Holt Hill Audio in Andover. Right: Theory features an innovative wine dispensing and preservation technology by Wineemotion. Photos by Kevin Harkins.

“Our focus is on smaller wineries that don’t pump out millions of gallons every year,” she says. “As much as possible we’re finding wineries that are really dedicated to sustainability and the craft.”

As for the music, Theory showcases local jazz, funk and indie folk musicians on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. The goal is to keep the atmosphere on the mellower side so conversation isn’t compromised. Bachmann is especially proud of a sound system at Theory that delivers crisp acoustics without the need to crank up the volume. 

When there’s no live entertainment, Theory keeps the music flowing via a custom built and retrofitted sound system created by Andover’s Holt Hill Audio. Nestled among the vintage speakers, which are precisely stacked like giant Tetris pieces at the back of the stage, patrons will find a turntable and vinyl records for their listening enjoyment. 

“You can come, take your time, enjoy the wine, and listen to the music without rushing through a meal and worrying that you have to leave,” Bachmann says. “We’d rather have people come and sit for a couple of hours, hang out and enjoy themselves.”

If you are a wine lover, audiophile or both, check their online calendar for upcoming tastings and live music events.   

Theory Wine Bar + Listening Room
Andover, Mass.
TheoryWineBar.com

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One Response

  1. Thanks so much for this article and photos! And special thanks to Chris, Jen, and the Helios Design team for the opportunity! One note: we are now located right next door in Lawrence, MA. We hope to sport an expanded showroom to show off our design/production skills for home and commercial hifi, as well as a burgeoning vintage restoration practice. Cheers!

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