Admittedly, this may just be my own, personal experience but somehow, prior to a vacation, I always have these visions of grandeur where I’m casually sipping wine in some fabulous place and taking time to just relax and thoroughly enjoy myself. Inevitably, that never happens and before I know it I’m packing my bags to head back home without ever darkening the door of one wine establishment. If you can relate, then let’s make a pact that next vacation, we’re gonna’ make it happen! And if you’re planning a visit to Savannah, this list of lovely little wine spots will take you one step closer to achieving your wine-cation goals (they say in moderation wine is good for you so let’s get sippin’!).
Whether you’re touring the city on a girls-or-guys-only getaway or taking time for just the two of you, Savannah has an irresistible mix of grown-up wine stops to give your trip a sophisticated flair. Just picture it, there you are, meandering Liberty Street in Historic Downtown Savannah and you stumble upon In Vino Veritas (which, for you curious types, is Latin for “In wine, truth” – 102 East Liberty Street, #109). You check your watch to justify that it’s a dignified-ish time for a glass of vino and step inside. The name does hint at what’s in store but what you may not expect is that their vast wine selection is served…on draft. You read correctly. Adorning the wall behind this modern establishment are 25 wines on draft ready for you to swirl, sniff and savor. Though it may seem unusual, it actually makes perfect sense according to operating partner of In Vino Veritas, Jason Ohmann. “Kegged wines are surging in popularity around the world because they offer the ability to eliminate waste and allow for samples of wine to be poured without compromising the bottle through oxygen exposure.” The experience of ordering a flight of draft wine is definitely one worth trying and a flight at In Vino Veritas allows you to experience four (4) half glasses of wine of your own choosing. The most popular time for guests to raise a glass at In Vino Veritas is the pre-dinner hour, and for good reason. “It’s just a really great spot for people to come in, enjoy a glass of wine and perhaps a cheese or charcuterie plate before going off to their restaurant reservation,” noted Jason. If, however, those pre-dinner hours pass you by, just remember, there’s always time for a nightcap.
Unlike In Vino Veritas, if I were to say the name The Salt Table to you, wine is probably not the first thing to come to mind – but you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The Salt Table (51 Barnard Street) may be known for its exotic blends of salty, spicy and sweet seasoning combinations, but it also prides itself on all things local and that includes having the only wine-tasting bar in the entire state that solely promotes Georgia-made wines. “These are internationally acclaimed wines,” affirmed founder and owner of The Salt Table, Dave Legasse. “Most people think that means their only choice is Muscadine wine but we sell it all. One of our vineyards has even won more awards than any other vineyard outside of California.” Located just off Broughton Street, the shopping hub of Savannah’s downtown, this really is the ultimate in wine-sipping convenience – shop, drink wine, shop some more – brilliant! And suddenly achieving those wine-cation goals seems more attainable than ever…
Another wine find near the heart of Broughton’s bustle is the French Bistro and Gastropub known as Circa 1875 (48 Whitaker Street – and if it helps, a Gastropub is simply a pub that specializes in serving high-quality food – yum!). The high ceilings and nostalgic jazz music of Circa beckon you to sit, sip and stay a while in this establishment that is divided in two with one half being a casual pub and the other a Parisian-style bistro (though you can order from the menu wherever you land). Pretentious? Goodness no! Extensive wine and liquor selection? Yes and yes. Circa 1875 even has its own wine cellar. “We feature 30 glass pours of red and white, served in sparkling crystal with a larger pour than most any one else – all very fairly priced,” detailed Jeffrey Downing, one of the owners of Circa 1875. “Here it’s all about the experience, there is no other setting like this in the city – or beyond,” he explained. “This space was originally a bar back in 1875 and SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) took it on as a preservation project in 2003.” According to Jeffrey, the students involved in the project researched every detail of the historic building in order to restore the walls, ceilings and floors to their original state – and it has made all the difference. From the moment you step inside of this quaint spot you are immediately transported to an entirely different dimension where you’ll happily while away the hours with relaxation, casual conversation and of course, wine!
A few blocks away from the shops of Broughton is a wine spot you would never know was even there, unless someone tells you, which, of course, I’m about to do! If you find yourself on Bay Street, look for a sign for “Churchill’s Gastropub and Taphouse” (13 West Bay Street), walk in, then walk down. “The entrance for the Cellar is often missed at first as it is directly next to the host stand,” explained Alyssa Bishop, the restaurant’s assistant manager, “but just down a set of stairs and through a metal gate, visitors will discover our unique, underground setting that is rare in Savannah.” Removed from any sunlight, it’s easy to lose track of time as Winston’s brick, wood and cast iron surroundings implore you to linger for at least two glasses (or more). And for those times when you need a little nibble or gourmet entree, Winston’s offers the same delicious food as the main floor of the restaurant. “Unless it’s booked by a private event, the Wine Cellar is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays,” noted Alyssa, “which makes stopping in a real treat for those lucky enough to secure a spot!”
Of course nothing says wine like a “Food and Wine Festival,” right? So if your itinerary has you touring Savannah in November, then we encourage you to get your tickets to the annual Savannah Food and Wine Festival. This weeklong celebration will give you reason to raise a glass (many glasses actually) at a variety of culinary-focused dining events, all with perfectly paired wines. But on one particular day, which, for the 2017 festival falls on November 11, ‘the main event’ will be held giving you the rare opportunity to choose from hundreds of wines, spirits and craft beers along with a wide variety of cooking demonstrations, learning experiences and delectable dishes from Savannah’s best restaurants. (We highly recommend you get your tickets early as this event is known to be a sell out – savannahfoodandwinefest.com).
As your day draws to a close it’s time to look up and enjoy one more glass on the roof at rtb! Located atop Homewood Suites Historic District (611 East River Street), and reserved exclusively for the hotel’s guests, this rooftop retreat includes a full-service bar, pool, private cabanas, fire pit, nine TVs and live music from beloved local artists. “While enjoying all of this, our rooftop area offers amazing views of Savannah and a front-row seat to the stunning ship traffic as they enter and leave the nearby port, which is the 4th largest in the United States,” said Bryan Cornelius, general manager. Mesmerized by the passing ships you may be tempted to linger longer and order just one more – and since your guest room is a short elevator ride away, the answer is always a resounding, “Yes!”
Red or white, dark and oaky or light and fruity, whatever your taste for wine, Savannah offers a toast-worthy array of spots to enjoy your go-to favorite or sample something new. And even though those ‘long’ three-day weekends always seem to fly by in a flash, with so many options sprinkled throughout downtown, you can be sure this is one vacation where your cup of wine and fun times will definitely runneth over. Cheers!
By: Heather Grant, Contributing Writer