Since Vintage Lounge opened late last year, downtown has gained another pair of wine bars with Graft and Bistro a Vin, and Uncork Charleston is readying to open soon on King Street. But the wine director of the forthcoming Josephine Wine Bar on Spring Street says she isn’t daunted by the crowded field.
“I think the best way is not standing apart,” advanced sommelier Ashley Broshious says when asked how Josephine will distinguish itself. “Like, I love going to Graft: It’s fun and edgy. But we just want to be welcoming. So I hope (co-owner) Femi (Oyediran) will send people who want to eat our food, and we’ll send people to him.”
The food at Josephine will be prepared by Shaun Connolly, who in 2016 left his last executive chef job in Chicago to visit Asia. Prior to his trip, Connolly led the kitchen at Presidio; he’d also worked at Epic, Moto and Nightwood. According to a press release, he will bring his “Great Lakes influence” to the site of the former’s Ernie’s, the peninsula’s last bean joint, in the form of whipped goat cheese with melon, tomatoes and sweet corn; papparadelle with duck carnitas and chicken a la plancha.
“What’s interesting is we’re calling ourselves a wine bar, but we are going to be a full-fledged restaurant,” says Broshious, who moved to Charleston partly because of her faith in owner Jill Cohen, who recently relocated from Chicago.
“She has the biggest heart, and such a good eye for detail,” Broshious says.
In keeping with the restaurant’s name, borrowed from the first French empress, the wine list will focus on wines from France; Broshious estimates that wine from the country’s established and newer producers will account for 70 percent of Josephine’s bottles.
She adds that “the wine program’s going to be a little more creative than I’ve seen recently,” pointing to her interest in wines from Dominique Lafon, credited with producing some of the world’s best white wines, and Schloss Schonborn, Germany’s oldest wine estate. “The whole thing is about playing with young and old,” she says.
True to her belief that downtown’s many wine programs are ultimately complementary, Broshious says her approach to wine selection is boosted by FIG’s recent James Beard Foundation award for Outstanding Wine Program.
“It’s inspiring that smaller lists showing a playful side are actually getting the acclaim they deserve,” she says. “It definitely makes it easier (to sell wine) now that people are having fun.”
Josephine, 64 Spring St., is scheduled to open this summer. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/josephinewinebar.