When 150 people walked into Main Street Market on Feb. 23, Roland Stanley knew he had tapped into something Gainesville wanted.
The soft opening of his wine and charcuterie store, Cork It, was a hit. People who’d signed up to be on the shop’s email list got the invite and it seemed like just about every one of them turned out to see what it had to offer.
“It was a really big success,” said Stanley, managing partner at Cork It. “We're really happy, and I think we got a lot of really positive feedback.”
The store — it can’t be called a “wine bar” because of city code — did well during its first few days being open. And now, it’s open for good. The shop’s hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:30 to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
And now that the soft opening is out of the way, he’s focused on correcting what needs to be corrected and getting geared up for Cork It’s grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 29.
“I think I am my own worst critic, so there's a lot of things that I saw that I thought, ‘I wish we would have done that differently,’” Stanley said. “But you have to live and learn.”
When you’re at Cork It, you can sit down at the newly-crafted bar and enjoy a cheese board or a charcuterie board with meats, crackers and jam. There’s a pickled board with pickled vegetables and even an olive board.
But let’s be real, the reason you're going to Cork It is for the wine, and they’ve got plenty from which to choose.
There’s a long list of white and rose wines like Mommy’s Timeout’s pinot grigio from Tuscany, Italy, Prisoner Wine Company’s Blindfold from California and Yonah Mountain Vineyards’ Dutton chardonnay from Dutton Creek, California. They also have a long list of red wines like Bravium’s pinot noir from Anderson Valley, California, Château Mont-Redon’s Châteauneuf-du-pape, from France and Yonah Mountain’s Genesis X from Cleveland.
“A lot of people showed up and it seemed like a lot of good traction in the community,” said Eric Miller, general manager at Yonah Mountain Vineyards. “I think it's nice to have nicer, high-end stuff instead of just beer and pizza, which is nice, too, but it's nice to have a wine and charcuterie place.”
Yonah Mountain Vineyards is the only local vineyard you’ll find on the Cork It menu right now. Apart from its Dutton Chardonnay and Genesis X, Yonah Mountain’s Totem Bordeaux Blend from California is available at $110 per bottle.
If you don’t want to spring for a whole bottle — and there are more affordable options in the $20 and $30 range — you can try their wine flights or simply order from the by-the-glass menu.
Flights come with four samples at 3 ounces per glass. You can choose a white or red flight.
“Just having a place where you can taste a lot of wines, and a place where you can easily experience more wines is great,” Miller said. “It's the same philosophy that all North Georgia wineries have. We want people to try new things. A lot of people are intimidated by wine and they don't have an opportunity to try a bunch of things without buying entire bottles.”
Though the soft opening went well and he got good feedback, Stanley said there’s still room to improve. He’s looking forward to continuing to help educate his staff so they’re able to talk more about the wine offerings and answer any questions that come up.
“What we need to do collectively as a team is to become more informed about the product we're selling,” Stanley said. “People like that. They want to know where the wine is from, they want to know the process of making the wine, why there are these notes of flavors versus these notes of flavors.”
Even though getting to this point has been a challenge, Stanley said he’s proud of where Cork It is at and he’s ready to continue corking a hole he saw in the community.
“It's always harder than you think it’s going to be,” Stanley said. “But it's been a lot of fun so far.”