Like so many stories it is hard to say where the story of 208 began. Just prior the the Covid pandemic James had opened his first venture into the wine industry with a retail and tasting room type experience with his family in Bloomington, Indiana. From the beginning people loved the concept, the wines, the food, the live music, but having only been open 3 months when the lockdowns began the dream quickly turned into an all-out scramble to keep the lights on. That store survived until it's first birthday, but there was no viable option that would have kept it going long enough to outrun the virus so they family decided to close the doors.
But the idea of having a great place to share great wine with people did not die with that experiment.
The wine gods brought James and Christina together when she relocated to Savannah from her native Brooklyn. As fate would have it, she bought the house directly across the street from James who was already in the process of opening up his first shop, and like any good business person does, spent time 'researching' his 'target market' - meaning he started hosting Wine Wednesday's to practice his somm skills on friends and neighbors. Christina quickly took up the bulk of food prep for these gatherings and they quickly became a favorite staple of the neighborhood.
These evenings would generally have a theme and start out with a sabering of a Champagne bottle followed by one or two more bottles to match the evenings' theme.. then we would continue with whatever house wine (even James' homemade Gamay) as the night wore on. We quickly learned the importance of maintaining hydration on Wine Wednesday otherwise they would be followed by Unproductive Thursdays.
Spaingang is born.
From these nights of alcohol-inspired brilliance came the notion to make a wine pilgrimage to Rioja, Spain (we all love Spanish wines). Some flash sales on airfare made it possible for three of us to make a trek to Madrid, Rioja and Lisbon. For 10 days we ate our fill of spiced meats, paella, and gorged on some of the best Tempranillo in the world. We drove through tiny medieval walled towns, met friendly shopkeepers, toured what may be the most impressive vineyard and winery in the world and enjoyed each other's company. We have so many great memories from that trip, almost all of which revolve around, you guessed it, great wine.
Fast Forward about eight months and James got into the habit of starting one day a week off at Cafe M (best croissants outside of Paris). While walking to his car, he passed the most stunning building on Factors Walk with a For Lease sign in the window. He snapped a photo of the building and texted it to Christina...
And that is how 208 Wine Bar came to be.
The proprietor of a small bar in Haro, Spain opening his favorite wine for us on a magical Rioja evening.