If you only think of Wine de Vine as just this very nice place to pick up a really good bottle of wine for dinner, well, you’re really missing the big picture.
It is so much more than that.
Although, if it is only wine you want, you would be well-served.
Wine de Vine has been serving and selling wine well for 15 years, cause for quite a street celebration on Friday night. It was quite a tribute to the stature of the shop that the city permitted the closing off of Coconut Drive, the main north-south thoroughfare for the night.
Actually, I think it was a tribute to the stature of Wine de Vine’s proprietor and heart and soul, Flor Saldivar-Bradley. She is the divine in Wine de Vine. Flor was one of the first people we met when we moved to Ambergris Caye nearly four years ago. I think a lot of expats can say that because Wine de Vine is one of those first stones on which you tentatively step as you cross that stream from outsider to expat here on the island.
What you hear is “if you want to meet other expats, if you want to find out what’s going on in San Pedro, stop in at Wine de Vine on Tuesday and Friday nights.” While that might at first sound a bit, ah, colonial, Tuesdays and Thursdays are nothing like that at all. Mind you, it is a great place to meet expats and pick up some gossip but as always, there’s more. It is also a great place to meet Belizeans. And wine lovers. And Belizean and expat wine lovers. And hang out for a night snacking on cheese and spiced meats and crackers while sipping wines by the glass from Argentina, Chile, Sonoma, Napa, and France.
In other words, Wine de Vine is all about discovery. I think that is its ultimate product. People, foods, wines, gossip — the four staples of island life.
Now, back to Flor for a moment. She is a walking directory of wines, so much so that you feel every bottle filling those racks and racks has been put there by Flor for a reason and maybe for a specific person. She has that warmth and personal touch and the knowledge that takes the holy terror and flop sweats out of selecting the right bottle for dinner. Seriously, when Flor is around and you are still picking a wine because the label looks interesting — same, shame, shame.
Flor also likes to throw parties on holidays in her shop for customers. That means a table sagging under an amazing array of dishes.
Not surprisingly, Wine de Vine can get a bit crowded, especially on Thursday nights. And loud. A good crowded and a good loud as only $10 and $12 BZ glasses of wine can foment.
Well, recently Flor took a look at the shop and took a look at the huge storage space in the back, cases and cases of wine that might sit there fo77r months while customers were standing shoulder in the front. I can not say where all the wine went but the demolition crew went to work, knocked out the back wall, moved the wine racks into the open maw, and tripled the size of the social space with tables, couches, conversation coves and lots of chairs. A stunning transformation.
And that ought to do it for the next 15 years. Maybe.
Some more photos from the 15th anniversary of Wine de Vine: