A wine bar designed for Rutherglen locals has turned into a tourist attraction in its own right, even picking up a recent Savour Award for best small bar in Victoria and Tasmania.
Border Cafe caught up with one of the owners of Thousand Pound Wine Bar & Store, Eliza Brown to learn more about the small bar that punches above its weight.
As a fourth-generation wine family, it’s no surprise that the team from All Saints Estate & St Leonards Vineyard, Eliza Brown, her brother Nicholas and sister Angela, could see the potential in establishing a wine bar in Rutherglen.
Eliza’s husband Denis Lucey, who hails from a hospitality background, also shared the vision of giving locals an alternative place to gather for drinks on Friday or Saturday night.
“Denis and I always thought it was weird there was no meeting place in a wine region, other than the pubs, to go for a drink and be in an environment where you don’t mind going by yourself to meet friends,”
The family decided to turn a former Indian Restaurant into a contemporary bar, stocking wines – not just from All Saints Estate, but other wineries the family has a connection with.
“I think a lot of the locals thought we were just going to stock our own wine,” Eliza said.
“But our idea behind the wine bar was to stock family owned wine – locally, from North East Victoria and elsewhere that we’ve had connections with.
“Nick (winemaker) has travelled a lot and worked with other wineries, and we really wanted to put their wines into our business – people that we could tell the story about in an authentic way and support them, as well as our wines.”
It didn’t take long for locals to support the new venture which opened just before Christmas in 2015.
“The concept has worked really well,” Eliza said.
“We didn’t really know who would turn up. We just started a Facebook Page, and sent a message out to say we were open, then at 5 o’clock this taxi pulls up.
“They were girls from Corowa and left work early to come over. They were our first customers, and then more came in.”
What’s really surprised the owners is the interest the wine bar has gathered from tourists.
“Not long after we opened we got a text message from people in Geelong,” Eliza said.
“They’d heard we opened a wine bar and were coming up this weekend to suss it out.
“I think people hold Rutherglen in such high esteem and when people invest in it, they go ‘Oh, well done.’ They want Rutherglen to succeed. It’s such a good town and a great community,”
Winning the Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Award for Best Small Bar Victoria/Tasmania has generated surprise, but great pride for the owners.
“Knowing we won, out of all these amazing small bars across Victoria and Tassie is an absolute surprise,” Eliza said.
“We’re only a two day a week business most of the year (Friday & Saturday), so you don’t expect to get such a big tick.
“The whole team is chuffed, we’re really proud and the community is like “Yay, well done to our bar!”
For more on Thousand Pound Wine Bar, which also serves dinner, visit: https://www.thousandpound.com.au/