2010 a good year for wine (bars)

Beer is so 2009.

A handful of new wine bars are popping the corks – or will be soon.

C’est La Vin opened in Shockoe Slip at 15 N. 17th St. this past weekend in the old Butch’s Produce space.

The new wine retailer and art gallery is owned by Ghermay Woldeab and Genete Semere.

Woldeab said he was looking at first to open a smoking lounge, but the new ban put a damper on those plans. So he decided to open a wine shop instead. He said there was a void of vino in Shockoe.

“We studied the market, and there isn’t one like ours within the Shockoe Bottom and Church Hill area,” Woldeab said.

In the next seven or eight months, he said, he would like to be able to sell wine by the glass, once he has the permits. In the meantime, he said the business will have tastings as well cold cut sandwiches and high end cheeses.

But Richmonders don’t have to wait that long to start patronizing the new breed of bars. Secco Wine Bar recently opened in Carytown after months of anticipation. The new spot offers small plates and wines by the glass.

Secco owner Julia Battaglini also owns River City Cellars retail store next door.

And those aren’t the only places in Carytown where you will be able to wet your whistle. Restaurateur Paul Heitz closed on the Cajun Bangkok space and will soon start work on Amour Wine Bistro.

Heitz is planning a grand opening in September.

“The concept is it’s not a bar or a restaurant; it is in between. The idea is to pair the wine and the food,” said Heitz.

The menu will include an appetizer, main course and dessert, with each coming with its own glass of wine, and all for a set price that includes all the courses.

Heitz said he will feature a different region of wine each month as well.

These are not the first wine bars in Carytown. Bin 22 pioneered the wine bar concept and is still buzzing nicely.

Other recently opened establishments have also put an emphasis on wine, including the Empress at 2043 W. Broad St.

And coffee shops are adding wine. The Black Hand Coffee Company in the Museum District just recently added wine and beer, and features several white wines on tap in a refrigerated display case. Lift Coffee Shop at 218 W. Broad St. has recently applied for a beer and wine license.

And out in the suburbs, The Wine Loft opened recently at West Broad Village in Short Pump.

Al Harris covers the restaurant industry for BizSense. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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