Another addition to the thriving Jefferson corridor
BY CHRIS CAMPBELL
“In nothing have the habits of the palate more decisive influence than in our relish of wines.” –Thomas Jefferson
“Resurgence” and “renaissance” are words that have been thrown around in the past few years in when describing the activity on Jefferson Street between Short and West Sixth. One of the earliest contributions to this revitalization was the opening of Wine + Market, the brainchild of Krim Boughalem and Andrea Sims who also own and operate Table 310. When opened in early 2008, W+M’s presence, along with Stella’s Kentucky Deli just a block south, sparked a revitalization on the corridor, which now is nothing less than a full-fledged boom. Renee Brewer worked at the fledgling wine shop, and fell in love with the idea of an urban wine market / grocery. Three years later, the then owners decided to sell….and Brewer wanted to buy. On November 1, 2011, she and her husband Seth owned the place.
Brewer, one of only three female Certified Sommeliers in Kentucky, finally had a business venture with which she could explore her passion for wine, and share it with the consuming public. But as business boomed, the Brewers saw more potential not only in the bourgeoning corridor, but also in the possibility to make Wine + Market a sister to a younger but more involved sibling. The wine grocery was good, but a grocery next to an accompanying wine bar would be great. But where?
That question was answered when the Wingspan Gallery – located directly across Jefferson on Second
Street – vacated the building’s first floor, leaving a tantalizingly close space almost literally within
reach of W+M. (Artist Carleton Wing and wife Livia relocated to Florida.)
“We walked through the space and immediately had a vision.” Renee recalls. “When the state issued new bar
licenses(in 2012), we applied and decided to go for it.”
They then were tasked with operating a small business while opening a completely new one across the street – at once. The building required extensive renovation, and the Brewers went to work. Though no structural modifications were required, walls were moved, old ceiling build-downs were torn out, and new floors were installed. After months of renovation – some of the contracting and physical labor done by Seth Brewer himself – Enoteca (‘wine library’ when loosely translated from Italian) opened to the public to rave reviews but without much self-induced fanfare.
“We’ve been humbled and pleasantly surprised with the good buzz just caused by word of mouth
(without publicity). We don’t even have a logo painted on the wall yet!”
While the bar is in its infancy, the Brewers have big plans for the younger sister of Wine + Market. But big
isn’t the catchword for Renee. The focus won’t be on Lexington’s biggest selection (though they already do offer over 100 different bottles on the list, and 20 by-the-glass), but mainly on quality and“good values.” Brewer has hand selected each wine that she offers – at both the grocery and the bar – and takes great pride in recommending bottles that are both reasonably priced and varietally correct. “A Malbec should taste like a Malbec. If it’s true to the style, and it’s well crafted, then I feel comfortable carrying it.” And while she’s a trained wine professional, she’s also cognizant to leave personal biases out of what you can find on the list. “My tastes aren’t necessarily going to be the same as everyone else’s, so you’ll find wine here that I may not prefer, but I respect out of its quality.”
Whether you’re a self-described wine snob, or if you have a penchant for zinfandel out of the box, chances are
that there is something here for you. And, if wine isn’t particularly your thing, there is a respectable craft beer and cocktail selection here too. “Wine is the focus, but it’s not the only thing we have to offer.”
In addition, Enoteca offers a small menu of thoughtfully designed, ever-evolving tapas to accompany your drinks – including mixes of olives, cheeses, meats and sometimes shellfish. Though you won’t be able to order a full four-course meal as for now, bi-weekly dinners with wine-and-food pairings, wine maker dinners and other reservation-only events are on the horizon. Soon, a wine preservation system will be introduced, giving the bar the ability to keep wine fresh after opened, and providing patrons an opportunity to sample wines that may be only supplied on a limited basis or in small quantities. And, if you like one of the hand-selected wines that you taste at Enoteca, over 80 percent of what you see on the list will be available across the street at the older – but not necessarily wiser – Wine + Market.
As Jefferson Street continues to provide a renewed energy to Lexington’s downtown, Enoteca is the newest
addition to the ever-growing corridor, and is a perfect complement to Wine + Market which helped start the rebirth of the Historic Western Suburb. It’s appropriate that the two businesses – driven by the sale of fine wines – are located on a street named after Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.”
Renee and Seth Brewer hope you agree.