What could be better than a place to “wind down and wine up” after a long day or long week? How about a place to rest your feet and wet your palate while shopping and basking in the holiday splendor of Nights of Lights? Without a doubt, there are an endless number of places in St. Augustine to enjoy a glass of wine, but how many of those places actually offer the ‘complete wine experience’? Family-owned-and-operated, Carrera Wine Cellar, is that destination.
When Jessica Stern and her family opened Carrera Wine Cellar in February of 2016, they envisioned a welcoming environment where customers could choose from a large selection of wines and relax in a warm, nostalgic setting. Immersed in the charm of a 130-year-old house at 35 San Marco Avenue, Carrera Wine Cellar’s property is best known as the 1950s and ‘60s home of Johnson’s Fruit Stand. With hardwood floors, a vintage fireplace, and two wine tasting bars just inside the threshold, the old world ambience of the establishment is meant to soothe the soul.
Though they are proud of the old-time feel, the ownership employs some of the wine industry’s most cutting-edge technology. Carrera’s two Enomatic® machines will dispense a 2, 4, or 6 ounce pour of their higher-end wine offerings for a small fee. This gives guests the opportunity to taste before investing in a bottle of “the good stuff.” The front of the house, with more than 250 bottles on the floor, is conveniently organized by class and availability — the Red and White Rooms house wines of their respective varietals, while the Reserve Room appeals to wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs with a bucket list selection of bottles in the $100 to $1800 (yes, $1,800) range that are no longer in production.
Carrera’s patio offers the perfect holiday setting for a break from a Nights of Lights stroll around town. The centerpiece is an outdoor wine bar built from the remnants of Johnson’s Fruit Stand’s old orange washer. Comfortable seating allows guests to relax outdoors while enjoying their beverages. Patrons who are thirsty for more of a frosty or sudsy beverage can choose from Carrera’s craft beer and cider selection. Cheese plates, pretzels, and baked brie make for the perfect pairing with a ‘birra’ or glass of ‘del vino.’ Patio guests can hear live music on select evenings from local musicians. There’s even a life-sized version of the classic family game ‘Connect Four’ because, let’s face it, even the most sophisticated wine drinkers are really just kids at heart.
“Our main goal is to make our guests feel comfortable and to provide a safe environment for enjoying fine wine away from the chaos of the bar scene,” explains Stern. She adds, “We like to get to know all of our guests. We couldn’t ask for a better customer base.”
Carrera Wine Cellar offers wine tastings, tours, and their signature “Brushes For Lushes” paint nights. The Attic is available for small parties to schedule work meetings, holiday gatherings, and premium wine tasting classes. For more information on St. Augustine’s year round ‘Complete Wine Experience’ call (904) 217-4751, visit the Carrera Wine Cellar website, or stop in at 35 San Marco Avenue.