When The Local Larder & Wine Bar opened in Ashgrove in late 2017, it started out as a modest neighbourhood wine bar peddling 30 natural wines, cheese and charcuterie. Then along came European-trained sommeliers James Alcock and Stephanie Fausz.
At the time, the married duo were operating Vinum Wine Distributors, bringing top Australian producers such as La Violetta and Cobaw Ridge into the state. Alcock was also curating wine lists for a number of restaurants, including The Local Larder & Wine Bar.
“Six months [into supplying the venue], we realised, ‘Gosh, these guys are going through a lot of wine for a small venue’,” he says. “Surprisingly, the owner was thinking of selling. So we wrapped up the distribution side of things and bought it.”
Since taking over, they’ve expanded the wine list to more than 120 bottles – with a large focus on natural and Queensland drops – and added a European-influenced menu. They also took over the office space next door and transformed it into a wine shop, which currently holds around 400 bottles and ships nationwide. This week, they relaunched the wine bar as Wine & Larder and the wine shop as Arcade Wine.
“[The venue] has already become a bit of an Ashgrove institution, but we feel now is the time to poke our head out,” Alcock says. “This is where we’ve landed [after numerous changes over the past two years] and this is where we’re going to stay.”
Venue manager Jayden Barker (a former hatted chef from the Gold Coast) has designed a bistro menu that’s suited for sharing. Snacks include a spanner-crab cracker with avocado and nori, and polenta chips with herb pesto. Smaller dishes might include kingfish crudo, octopus carpaccio or burrata with yellow peaches; larger plates include roasted duck breast with grilled peach and beetroot, and spaghettini with spanner crab, chilli, garlic and saffron. The five-course set “feed me” menu is terrific value at $65 per person (matching wines are $35 extra).
The venue has retained its minimalist, contemporary fit-out – similar to a modern French bistro – with a large bar, wooden floorboards and chairs, and floor-to-ceiling windows. The wine shop is dark and moody with a splash of dark red paint, a lounge and a high timber table for tastings and masterclasses.
The wine list across both venues features local, domestic and international drops (many of them coming from natural producers). You might find Queensland labels such as La Petite Mort, Witches Falls and Golden Grove, alongside top Australian producers Joshua Cooper, Las Vino and Hughes & Hughes, and cult international wines from the likes of Frank Cornelissen and Radikon. Alcock is an advocate for the wines from the Granite Belt, visiting the region at least twice a month.
“What they can produce fruit-wise is great, and once you have more great winemakers being able to reflect what that fruit can do, you’ll start to see it taking off,” he says. “I truly believe the Granite Belt is going to be something in the future that we’ll all look up to.”
In fact, Alcock and Fausz recently purchased a vineyard there that’s planted with 25-year-old shiraz and chenin blanc vines. They plan to make wines under the label Granite Wines, which will supply the bistro and wine shop.
“We’re going to tie it into this place,” Alcock says. “A lot of the wines we make will be for the shop, and we’re going to get a lot of our wine club members up there to help pick grapes at vintage and make wine with us.”
Wine & Larder
479 Waterworks Road, Ashgrove
0491 629 101
Tue to Thu 3pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–11pm
7a/479 Waterworks Road, Ashgrove
Tue to Thu 1pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 11am–11pm