Last Friday Maura and I stopped by newly-open California Vintage on Wyndham Street to grab a glass of wine. The place was absolutely buzzing with people, some media types doing wine tastings, a gaggle of staff and quite a few girls like us stopping in for an early evening drink. As the whole of the bar front is open onto the street they had filled the already-packed interior with heat lamps and we were soon toasty warm.
California Vintage are billing this Wyndham Street location as their “Flagship” outlet, and planning an ambitious expansion throughout Hong Kong and Asia with the aim of having 20 outlets in the next five years. California Vintage only serve Californian wines, and have partnered with 22 family-owned vineyards to put together their wine list. The concept of this wine bar is a little like Tastings just down the road in that they’ve installed a Smart Card system whereby you can pre-pay and serve yourself from the wine dispensers if you prefer to have a tasting portion, a full glass or a bottle. The Press Release we received also mentions that they will have iPads loaded with info about the different wines to help you make your selection, but to be honest, Maura and I just ordered our wine from the waiter as we were more interested in chatting than spending too long choosing our wines!
The wine list divides reds and whites into different categories so that you can pick a “Light, sparkling” white or a “full-bodied, fruit-forward” red, and then as a fun twist also suggests which dishes would work well with your selection. The dishes mostly seemed to be tapas-style selections of cheeses, charcuterie or light salads which will be lovely in the summer.
We definitely expect California Vintage to be a big hit on Wyndham Street. The wines are priced very reasonably and the interior is cosy and great for people-watching. We did find the tables a little too close together for comfort – as the high chairs have very low backs on them you can lean back and find yourself touching the person behind you, but with the rents as high as they are in this neighbourhood we can’t blame them for needing to make the most of their floor space!
California Vintage, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, 2525 9808.