New Heights wine shop and bar leads to bohemian charm and eclectic delights

The Heights will soon welcome a new wine shop and tasting room. Reata Cellars will open July 6 at 633 West 19th St.

A Spanish word that refers to the leather rope worn by Mexican vaqueros – and also the name of the ranch in the classic movie Giant — Reata reunites wine industry veteran Mary Dodson with Sandy Epps, a former music industry star who also operated a wine bar in Columbus, Texas. Together, they have transformed a former insurance office into an intimate space where you can discover wine, first by drinking it, of course, but also by talking about it.

“We wanted it to feel more like a Spanish cellar, but when we gutted it and discovered the bohemian, industrial vibe of the 70s, we decided to go for it,” Epps says of the space, which has exposed brickwork. concrete walls and floors. “It gives him charm.”

Adding to that charm are furniture built by Epps’ daughter, Allison, and artwork that the two women have collected over the years. Epps’ history in the music business is also recognized by the framed gold and platinum records she earned as the manager of legendary Texas bands the Butthole Surfers and the Toadies.

Dodson assembled the opening selection of around 60 bottles by selecting wines she knows well from her time as a wine distributor. The list is for small producers that customers won’t find in any nearby grocery stores. It comes from everything from Italian sparkling wine to domestic producers and wine produced by Houston master sommelier Guy Stout.

“The wine selection is fun. It’s supposed to have no one direction,” Dodson says. “It’s going to come from my past and the people we love. The people who bring us what we are looking for, that is to say [wines] which are not everywhere we can support.

“My philosophy is that there’s a story in every bottle of wine,” adds Epps. “That’s our slogan. I wanted a small and intimate space, where we could talk about wine, share stories and become friends.

Reata holds a cellar license, which allows it both to import wines and to produce its own cuvées. These shots are still a little fluid, but Dodson sees the potential of using grapes from Texas and other parts of the world, adorned with labels designed by Epps’ artist friends. “Any person or estate that has touched us over the years that we can be a part of, we will,” she says.

For now, Reata plans to be open Wednesday through Saturday. With a rotating selection of five wines by the glass, it’s an ideal pre-dinner option for people heading to nearby restaurants like Squable, Harold’s and La Lucha. Customers can snack on cheeses from Houston Dairymaids or charcuterie boards from Gourmet Foods. Over time, they plan to organize tasting events with visiting winemakers and create a buyers’ club for regulars.

“I hope people will want to hang out with us,” Dodson thinks. “Other than that, it’s fun. It’s having fun with what you do. Understand that working hard doesn’t mean not having fun. It means understanding what you do and being passionate about what you do.

Laura J. Boyer