Partner/Grape Alchemist: Shepard Ross
Known for: Pax Americana, Brooklyn Athletic Cub, BRC Gastropub
When Shepard Ross lays out a wine, those in the know understand they’re in for something special. Ross is the kind of enthusiast who naturally pulls others into his excitement about a wine. Ross has been everything from an actor to a menu developer to a wine buyer, opening and consulting for restaurants all over Houston. He’s a partner in Bravery Chef Hall, as well as the mastermind behind the hall’s wine bar.
Stretching along a long spot against the right wall of the space, the modern metal-and-wood area is accented with a blue-star-studded-tile counter and mint green bar chairs. Thirty wines will be on tap, every single one of them hand-selected by Ross and designed to go with the hall’s global cuisine.
“A third of these wines are proprietary blends,” Ross says. “We’ve worked with winemakers to do our own blends and barrels and that will continue to increase as the vintages become available to us.”
Because Bravery is a chef-driven food hall, with each concept offering high-quality, curated cuisine, it made sense to ensure there was an equally high-quality wine bar. Diners, Ross says, naturally want an elevated wine experience if they’re having an elevated food experience. While the wine bar is one of three bar programs in the hall (the others are Lockwood Station and The Secret Garden), it has a foundational element Ross believes meshes with all of Bravery’s food offerings.
Wines are available by the glass and by the bottle, and diners have the option of grabbing a glass and sitting at the bar or taking that glass (or bottle) to one of the other concepts and savoring it with food from Bravery’s chefs. Ross says the hall will also add what he calls “wine slingers” to go around to diners and take their orders.
Ross wants the wine bar – and the whole hall – to become a place for socializing and engagement. His theory is that those seated at the bar will hear bartenders talking to guests about the wines, and guests will then start conversations with each other about what they’ve had and what they like, which creates an exchange of ideas that might lead to networking or even new friendships. He’s hoping the wine bar will be the place people can set down their phones and interact with each other.
“This can be a learning experience,” he says. “People are just dying to try new things. Most people love to have experiences, once they see the risk factor doesn’t have to be intimidating.”
Ross is also emphasizing that drinkers can expect a high level of service from the wine bar, with knowledgeable staff who are looking to provide them with something they’ll enjoy. There will be a range of styles and prices, so everyone can find something suitable for their taste and budget.
“I want to put value in your glass,” he says enthusiastically. “I want people to fight for a seat here, there is such a great place to be.”