Wine Bar Update: 9-30-2013

STICKER SHOCK:  I need to get one more item for closing on the loan for the wine bar – insurance.  I have gotten two quotes in this week and have experienced some serious sticker shock.  I have dealt with insurance for years in my position as a financial controller.  As a result, I have several connections in the industry.  I consulted with them as I built my business plan for the wine bar and prepared my projections.  I thought I had a handle on it, but the quotes (like everything else I have touched for this project) are WAY over budget.  A couple of things have led to this – being so near the coast (and hurricanes) and the fact that I don’t have an experience rating yet.  I am waiting for a couple of other quotes to come in hoping to find a policy that won’t break the bank.

CELEBRATION:  We also had reason to celebrate this past week.  For the last six months, I have been in South Carolina while hubby was still in North Carolina working.  One of us needed to keep a pay check and since the wine bar is my dream, he wanted to continue working while he helped me realize it.  This past week he was offered a job working for the City of Bluffton doing basically the same thing he has been doing for the City of Winston Salem.

Over the last few months, I have met with bankers, architects, and contractors by myself.  I have made major life-altering decisions with only a phone call to discuss these decisions with Hubby.  I even bought our new home with him only seeing it online, not in person.  But now we can be together again as the construction begins on the bar.

We celebrated by taking the family to The Old Oyster Factory on Hilton Head Island.

view oyser factory

View from our dinner table.

We opted for a bottle of Cakebread Cellars 2011 Chardonnay.  The wine was creamy with just a hint of buttery notes and spicy oak.  It had flavors of green apple, melon and citrus.  The finish had just enough bite to make it linger on the palate.  The delicate balance between acidity and minerality made this the perfect wine for  our meal.

cakebread chard

2011 Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay paired with Bruschetta

We started by pairing our wine with The Old Oyster Factory’s own recipe for Bruschetta, then moved on to our entrées.

Seafood Medley

Seafood Medley

Fried Scallops with Mashed Potatoes

Fried Scallops with Mashed Potatoes

Low Country Boil

Low Country Boil

We completed the meal with all the kids getting t-shirts from our waiter.


The Family

We’re home!

Please be sure to check us out on Facebook and give us a thumb’s up.  Our soft opening will be a special event for Facebook followers only and we would love to see you there!

Wine Wednesday’s Terminology: Breathe

A few weeks ago I did a post about a sommelier’s tool called a Tastevin and promised to do posts on Wednesdays about a wine-related item or wine terminology.  Thankfully I didn’t promise to do this EVERY Wednesday (even though that was my intent).  So I have missed a few weeks, but hopefully I am back on track.

This Wine Wednesday we are talking about letting your wine breathe.  (I actually was going to do an article about wine legs, but the research I pulled up was so extensive I was overwhelmed.  A person could write a whole book about wine legs – and there’s just not enough room here to do that!)  😉

A while back I did a post called The Lighter Side of Wine Looking back at that article now, I realize I didn’t discuss letting your wine breathe.  This is an expression we have all heard.  Hopefully we can answer some of your questions here about letting wine breathe and keep it light and easy.   What does it mean to let your wine breathe?  Which wines need to breathe?  How do you let wine breathe?  Why do you let a wine breathe?  How long does the wine need to breathe?

A little music to set the mood:  Anna Nalick, Just Breathe

What does it mean to let wine breathe?  A wine starts to breathe the minute it is opened; however, simply opening the wine and letting it sit in the open bottle will not do much to help the wine breathe (sometimes referred to as aerating).  For a wine to breathe, you have to expose more surface area of the wine to oxygen.  You can do this by using a decanter.  Try it for yourself.  Pour half the bottle into a decanter.  Taste a sip or two of your wine poured from the bottle and then taste some poured from the decanter.  Even if you thought the wine was good from the bottle, you will be able to tell a significant difference from the decanter.   This is all because the wine was exposed to oxygen.  You can accomplish a similar effect by using an aerator to infuse oxygen into the wine as it is poured.


Image credit:

Which wines need to breathe?  You can let any wine breathe, but young, tannic red wines, like Cabs, need to breathe.  One might think that you should let older wines breathe as well.  Typically you decant older wines but mostly just to keep the sediment out of the glass.  Once you have decanted a wine that has reached its peak maturity, you should serve it quickly to take full advantage of the aromatics and not let it breathe too long.

How do you let a wine breathe?  You have a few options to let wine breathe:  (1) As mentioned above, you can decant the wine, (2) you can aerate the wine as you pour it into the glass, or (3) You can simply pour it into your glass and let it sit for several minutes before drinking.

Why do you let a wine breathe?  I mentioned above that you should let young, tannic wines breathe.  The reason you do this is to soften the tannins.  The wine mellows and both the flavors and aromatics become more pronounced.

How long should you let a wine breathe?  There is no tried and true answer to this one.   If the wine suits your taste as soon as it is decanted, drink up.  If it is still too tannic for you, let it sit a while, maybe even a couple of hours.  The reality is (just like wines you prefer), your personal preference determines how long your wine should breathe.

Happy Wine Wednesday, All!  If there is a wine-related item or terminology you want more info on, just let me know.

Wine Bar Update: 9-23-2013

“Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, hang onto the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. in between.”  I saw this post on a friend’s Facebook page today.  I had been struggling with how to approach today’s wine bar update but when I read this post, I decided to accentuate the positive.

There’s not been much going on with the wine bar.  I am pulling documents together for the attorney to close on the loan – yeah, I know, BORING!  But I still wanted to stick to my promise and publish an update.

Knowing that the loan has been approved, I decided it was time to get serious about wine, after all, this is a wine bar.  I have met with a couple of different distributors to discuss our wine menu and start sampling wines.  As much as I love sampling new wines, this can actually be very daunting.  I know if a wine isn’t great or doesn’t sell that I can order more every day of the week, but I don’t want to waste money on inventory that doesn’t turn over (quickly) and I don’t want to start out by giving a bad impression.

I will be tasting all the wines before I buy, but to find a starting point, I decided to go online to all my favorite restaurants and pull their wine lists.  I am in the process of comparing these lists to see which wines have made more than one list.  Even though the distributors are making suggestions, I will specifically request wines from my discovery.

The next item I have shopped for is the back bar.  Basically what I needed was to find a design that fits the look and feel of the rest of the bar.  Well I’ve found that at a restaurant supplier called Andy Thornton.


This great vintage look will be perfect.  I will get two of them and have one over each wine refrigerator that sits along the back bar.  This is actually going to save money over the contractor’s quote for building the back bar from scratch.  The shelf is  too tall as it is so we will remove the top row of cubbies and flip them upside down.  This will create a row of open cubbies that will then be attached to the bathroom wall by the vanities to hold paper towels and soap so that the vintage look is carried all the way through.

On a side note (still positive):  This process of starting the bar has caused helped me lose weight.  My pants now come off without having to unbutton them.  It’s really not a sexy look!  I will definitely have to do some shopping before the bar opens.

Our Facebook following has increased by more than 20% over the last week.  Join us on Facebook to be invited to a special Grand Opening and to know about all our events and dinners.

Possession: It’s Mine!!! #MWWC3

There are several definitions of the word “possession” in the dictionary.   Two that fit this post are: (1) Anything that is owned or possessed and (2) The physical control or occupancy of property whether or not accompanied by ownership.

The topic of possession as it relates to wine is the theme of this month’s “Monthly Wine Writing Challenge” as selected by last month’s challenge winner, Sally of “My Custard Pie.”  You can find all the guidelines by going to Sally’s blog.   This monthly challenge is the brainchild of Jeff, commonly known as the “Drunken Cyclist.”  It is open to anyone who wants to write about the selected topic and participate.


So here’s my story – the reason I am so possessive with my wine:

Several years ago, my husband threw me a surprise birthday party.  One couple that came to the party had led a fairly glamorous lifestyle traveling all over the world with her job.  During these travels, they bought wine from all over the world as well.  When they moved to Winston Salem, they built an amazing wine cellar in their basement.  Hubby and I had been fortunate enough to share wine with our friends from their collection.

For my birthday, these friends brought me a bottle of wine from their private collection.  I was thrilled!  As the alcohol was already flowing and there were way too many people at the house to be able to appreciate this wine, I sat it off to the side to save.  Please don’t take this wrong.  I love sharing my wine with friends.  I just wanted the time to be right for the experience.

The night progressed and some guests had a little too much to drink.  I was outside chatting with a group of people when someone came stumbling out the door with a glass of wine.  The glass was so full it was literally spilling over the top – no room to swirl, sniff, appreciate.  His comment was, “This is some good shit!”  I asked what he was drinking and he responded that he didn’t know what it was, that he had opened a bottle that was sitting on the cabinet.  He had opened MY wine – it was mine!!!  By the time I got into the house, the bottle was empty.  I didn’t get any!  To this day he has no idea that I was so disappointed he had opened my wine.

The next day as I was cleaning up from the party, I decided the I needed to be a little more protective with my wine.  Even though we had a wine fridge, I opted to move all the “special” wines into a closet for safekeeping until I was ready to open and share them.  (No, I don’t have a wine cellar so a dark closet was the next best option.)  So we bought a wine rack for the closet in the spare bedroom.

My wines are now very organized.  My review wines are marked as such and grouped together.  Wines that I am holding onto until a specific year are labeled and grouped by year.  The wine fridge was always stocked (this was in the house we have just sold) and the excess was stored in the closet but readily available for drinking.  And no, I did not let anyone go the closet alone to get wine; however, I would let friends come into the closet to help select the wine for the evening.

I still believe in sharing my wine with friends, but I also like having a little more control over what is opened and when.  After all, it’s mine!

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #3

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge – are you up for it???

Wine Bar Uodate – 9-16-2013

What a difference a week makes!  Actually, I got the news last Thursday (Hubby’s birthday, September 12) that the SBA had approved our loan.  I knew there was no reason to not get the approval, but seriously, this has been dragging out for six months.  So finally it has happened.  And I am excited – thrilled actually.  One would think that I have now jumped through all the bureaucratic hoops they could throw at me but no, they have pulled out a few new ones, like just now ordering copies of my tax return transcripts from the IRS.  Apparently they can’t use the copies I have.  My only question is:  “Why didn’t they order these a month ago instead of waiting until now?”  I can’t blame this on anyone but the bank.

I also met with the contractor today and signed the final quote sheet and paid for all the permits.  We now have a business license, a building permit and have paid our retail impact fees to the city of Bluffton.

The bank hasn’t given me a date for closing on the loan, but I am really hoping this happens by the end of the month so that we can start construction the first week in October.  This is like giving birth – I will have been at this 9 months by the time we get the build-out completed.


Please check us out on Facebook and give us a “Thumb’s Up.”  We are planning a special grand opening party just for Facebook followers and I would love to see you there.

Wine Bar Update – 9-9-2013

It is really hard to believe it has been six weeks since I updated everyone on the status of Latitude Wine Bar.  It continues to be the SLOWEST moving project I have ever been involved in.

On a brighter note, we have sold our house in Winston Salem, NC.  It was on the market for 4 months which appears to be a fairly quick sale.  As of today, we have furniture sitting in two different storage units, at my daughter’s house and in a temporary living arrangement my husband has been forced into as we wait for all the pieces to fall into place for the wine bar.

We have also entered into a contract to buy a house in Bluffton.  It is a really cute little house (to better define little, the new house is literally half the size of the old house).  We have sold some furniture, had a huge yard sale and donated numerous items to charity.  We know that we will have to sell even more furniture once we get into the new house and determine exactly what we need.

These are two huge steps out of our laundry list of things we are trying to do.  It is a load off my mind and has allowed me to become focused once again on the wine bar, blogging and social media.  I haven’t lost focus on the wine bar, but packing, moving and going back and forth between South and North Carolina has pulled me away from blogging and social media.  (It is good to be back!)

Now back to the wine bar!  About three weeks ago, I received a phone call from my contractor.  They had been getting quotes in from sub-contractors and they were way over budget.  The cost of the build-out for he wine bar actually went up by 45% – yes, you read that right!  Not 5 or 10%, but a full 45%.  I was in shock – that was a lot of money.  I told them I just couldn’t do it, I was going to pull the plug.  Stunned silence on the other end of the phone!  After several seconds, a very subdued voice ask me to give them a chance to get more quotes in and to work out some other issues related to the cost of the build-out.  It took them until this past weekend to get me the revised quote.  It is still 15% above the original estimate, but is doable.  I am going to let go of some other items I wanted – such as the dishwasher (glasses will now be done by hand, at least in the beginning) and the awning over the windows will wait until next Spring.

Then we have the Small Business Loan – OMG!!!  This is one of those things that should have been approved in 7-10 business days; but no, the SBA was behind so it was going to take 30 days.  And they took the full 30 days, but then all they came back with was a request for more info.  I have been supplying more info for the last two weeks.  Hopefully today wrapped up all of their requests.  It is definitely a balancing act!


I have met a couple of distributors and have enjoyed some really good wine tastings.  The business plan is solid.  And I promise there will be a special post put up the day they actually start construction (you may not be able to stand me!)!!!


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There’s a New Game in Town

Underground Cellar, the new wine start-up founded by technology entrepreneur Jeffrey Shaw, has reconstructed an innovative solution to a problem plaguing the $1.4-Billion direct-to-consumer wine industry: deep-discount websites.  Underground Cellar’s solution is expected to save wineries millions of dollars by steering them away from the deep-discount players like Lot18, Wine.Woot, Wines Til Sold Out, Invino, and WineAccess. Underground Cellar has received big backing despite having 26-year-old Shaw at the helm; quietly raising their seed financing round in May of 2013 and building out an impressive team including naming Jeff Keller as their VP Business Development, who hails from WineAccess, one of Underground Cellar’s key competitors with online wine sales estimated at $25 Million dollars annually. For several years now wineries have looked to these “flash” sites to sell their excess and overstocked wine, but at a huge cost — bastardization of their winery’s brand, reputation, and pricing structure.  The profits for wineries resulting from these flash sales are extremely inconsistent, and do not provide reliable revenue streams sustainable over the long-term. Industry consulting firm VinTank estimates that flash sales now generate in excess of $100-million annually for wineries looking to float through a financial pinch. Shaw realized there is a better way for these wineries to quickly sell their wine without sacrificing their brand and future pricing structure: all they had to do was ditch the discounts and replace them with upgrades. “Instead of discounting wine, we reward buyers with opportunities to be upgraded for free to high-priced wines from their favorite winery’s inventory: often hard-to-get bottles like library wines or bottles from the winemaker’s private stash.  Buyers can increase their upgrade potential through ‘influence points’ which are earned by participating in winery offers, engaging in meaningful discussions, and participating in other site activities,” explained Shaw. Underground Cellar also has the first of its kind storage solution—“CloudCellar” – where buyers can purchase as little as a single bottle of wine from a winery, and store it for as long as they want for free, at Underground Cellar’s perfectly maintained humidity and temperature-controlled wine cellar in Napa Valley. Customers can mix-and-match bottles from different wineries over time, and when they are ready to take delivery they simply log onto the website and select which bottles they want delivered; 6 bottles arrive anywhere in the US for only $5; and 12-bottles are shipped for free. Underground Cellar even boasts being able to deliver wine chilled and ready to drink (nearly anywhere in the US) through a special arrangement with FedEx and Copper Peak Logistics. September 12th marks the public launch of Underground Cellar’s online wine deals marketplace available at their website, launching in tandem with a grand “Mystery Wine Night” event that same evening at the historic General’s Residence at Fort Mason from 6-9pm. Event details and tickets are available at

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