Picture this: it's your husband's birthday. (or your significant other) You want to do something different, something that includes fellowship with good friends, good food, great wine, and a permanent reminder of a special evening. So you book for 10 people at Canvas and Cabernet.

When you arrive, you'll have the choice of a number of splendid vintages. With a glass of wine (or other beverage, alcohol or not) at your side, you'll be seated in front of an easel, paints and brushes ready for you.

And Cyndi Taylor will gently bring out your inner artist. You'll prepare your canvas, laying down a first layer of colour. And then a second. And you'll be surprised, and pleased, with what you are able to create.

Not only that, if you're the birthday boy (or girl) your friends will be admiring your work, while you do the same for them. Lots of comments, lots of support and at the end of the evening you'll go home with your art piece.

But it's not just about wine and canvas. Cyndi has a dynamite menu served on absolutely beautiful burled maple and walnut 'boards.' Presentation is unique. Food is creative. The entire experience is designed to give you a great event.

As I watched Cyndi prepare for an evening event recently, I couldn't help but think about the many different activities that would thrive at Canvas and Cabernet. A baby shower. Bridal shower. Bachelor or bachelorette. How about corporate team building? Reunions? Graduations? Or just friends getting together?

When Cyndi rented her space at 72 Dunlop St E, beside the also-newly-opened Chavo Crepes, she had a vision of what her space would be able to offer. She offers Vinyl Nights where her massive vinyl collection (or yours) finds its way onto turntable and speakers. She holds special 'date nights' as well as customized parties of all kinds.

A home decor seamstress for 17 years, and then a massage and acupuncture therapist for another 15, Cyndi feels she uses her intuitive talents when working with people to trust themselves enough to create art. "I saw myself opening a little bistro, with my love of food, good wine and music, cheese and chocolate," she says. "But there was one part missing. The art part happened a year ago when I was in California. We were doing a tour that gave us creative experience: glass blowing, pottery, painting. And as we painted, I thought, Bingo! That's it.

"And Canvas and Cabernet was born."

She spent a lot of time finding the right place, and when she stood inside a newly vacated dress shop eight months ago, and looked out on Memorial Square in downtown Barrie, the billboard sign said: Expect Great Things. It became her omen.

It got her through months and months of municipal red tape. It got her through having to order and pay for a special events liquor licence every single day until her liquor licence was finally granted.

She talks about what happens when two or three groups paint at the same time. They get talking. They praise each other's work. They start to network and discover similarities and connections. It's so much more than wine and paint! Usually groups eat either before or after painting and everyone leaves with chocolate. The best part is that people slow down!

Cyndi divides her business into three components, a charcuterie with specialty meats, cheese, breads--tapas-like, and then the wine bar, and then the entertainment, whether it's music or painting.

She can accommodate groups from 2 to 30 and uses only acrylic paints so they dry in time to take home. Every painting is 16 by 20 inches and Cyndi buys her canvasses and paint in bulk.

While wine and food is individually priced, the painting experience is priced at $50 per person and she offers six classes a week, each class two hours.

She's marketing her evenings cleverly and Sunday afternoon is Sunday Sails, sailboat paintings and the week's wine sell-off at half price. Turntable Tuesdays. Winedown Wednesdays. Date Night Saturdays. Friday Night Flights. Check out canvasandcabernet.ca and download her mobile app.

She sums it up this way: a little wine, a little paint, and a whole lot of fun!

Thanks, Cyndi! We needed that!

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