Cincinnati is not as well known for its wine production as it is its beer, but thirsty locals are cultivating a maturing wine scene that has seen some great additions recently. In May, a local wine veteran popped the cork on his new venture, Annata Wine Bar and Cellar in O’Bryonville.
Owner Tim Shumrick has been in the wine industry for 40 years in the roles of restaurant and wine shop owner, distributor’s sales rep and retail manager. Notably, he owned and operated the wine shop and restaurant Chateau Pomije for over 30 years in the same space as Annata.
Eventually, Shumrick wanted a change of pace.
“After being in the restaurant business for many years, I got burned out on it and I sold the business to The Art of Entertaining,” Shumrick tells CityBeat by email. “They occupied the space for about 15 years until COVID-19 came along and put an end to that.”
Since Shumrick owned the building, he was left with a couple of empty storefronts and no prospective tenants. Falling back on what had worked before, he decided to revive the retail wine shop concept, opting for a wine bar in the additional space instead of a full restaurant.
“My concept has been all along that I want it to be a neighborhood stop – more along the lines of a wine Cheers-type place,” he says, referring to the 1980’s TV sitcom bar “where everybody knows your name.”
Annata’s bar currently features about 25 wines by the glass plus a few craft beers and bottled domestic beers. To make the lineup, Shumrick says they not only have to taste great but also should represent the varietal well and be a good value.
“We taste everything that we put on the bar and select them due to the quality, value and uniqueness of the wine, like the Voché Reserva,” Shumrick explains.
The wine he mentions [Voché Reserva Rioja 2014] is a Spanish red made from 100% graciano, an uncommon grape from the Rioja region that’s even more rare to find bottled on its own. The wine is not just unique; it also represents a fantastic value at $15.99 per bottle. Enjoy a glass of it at the bar for $11.
Shrumick enjoys the thrill of the hunt for these interesting and affordable wines, and he wants to share that experience with his customers.
“It would be easy to just pour expensive wines that all taste great, but the fun part is finding that value wine that no one has ever heard of,” Shumrick says.
Patrons don’t have to choose only one wine at a time. Annata’s Wine Flight provides 3-ounce servings of three wines for $15. Wines by the glass also are offered in 6- or 9-ounce pours, with 6-ounce glasses ranging $9-$14 and the larger servings ranging $13-$20.
The main space features a large U-shaped bar crowned by an array of stemware hanging above the center. Visitors are encouraged to meander the bar and connected retail shop while sipping their libations of choice. There’s also a roomy two-level patio at the rear that’s perfect for socializing.
Shumrick says the retail shop offers over 400 different wines and that the collection eventually will grow to more than 500.
The food menu at Annata mostly is limited to items that require no cooking, except for a couple of grilled or smoked ingredients. Shumrick chooses the food options with the same care that goes into choosing wines.
“The charcuterie boards are made in house with a focus on using as much local Salami, cheese and produce as possible,” he says. “Currently, I’m doing the boards with one other person in the kitchen.”
The cheese plate features a selection of local cheeses from the likes of Kenny’s Farmhouse in Austin, Kentucky, and Capriole Farm in Greenville, Indiana.
A whole sliced baguette accompanies the cheeses, along with figs, dried cranberries, olives, cornichons, pistachios and membrillo ($19.95).
The charcuterie board includes the same bites as the cheese plate plus a couple of local meats and a mustard ($24.95). Shumrick says the selections aren’t set in stone, and patrons can expect new flavors from week to week.
Shumrick says the Mediterranean platter was a crowd pleaser at Chateau Pomije, so he brought it back for Annata. The shareable spread consists of house-made hummus, baba ganoush, Feta cheese, Greek olives, grilled vegetables and toasted pita ($14.95). A tossed salad with optional meat addition ($5.95/$11.95) and a rotating local dessert ($8.95) round out the food menu.
The new concept is catching on with the neighborhood locals, Shumrick says.
“They have been watching [the bar] being built for the last year, and they want their ‘own’ wine bar,” he says. “People have been very excited about it and think it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.”
Annata Wine Bar, 2021 Madison Rd., O’Bryonville. Info: annatawinebar.com.