“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” says Jeremy Honisett, as he looks around his newest wine bar and bottle-O hybrid on Union Road in Ascot Vale.
That’s a clever strategy, considering Honisett’s project for the last seven years, Seddon Wine Store, has been one of the most popular spots in the area.
For his second venue, however, Honisett needed help.
“I wanted to do something else for quite some time, but I felt like it’d be a stretch if I didn’t have a partner,” he says. He needed someone who understood the reasons for the Seddon bar’s success and who understood the west side of town as well as him. He needed someone who understood how he operated. Enter Suzy, his wife.
Together, the couple has built a simple yet sophisticated wine bar and store that’s all about servicing the neighbourhood.
“It’s certainly not a cut-and-paste copy, but we’ve taken a lot from Seddon,” Jeremy explains.
The biggest similarity is an encyclopaedia-like wall of “predominantly boutique” wines. In Ascot Vale, this wall runs almost the entire length of the space. The back half is dedicated to an army of neon-lit, almost futuristic fridges chilling whites, rosés, sparklings and a small selection of local beers. The front half seems of another era – a much older one – with cosy wooden cabinets housing an array of reds. Warm downlights make the bottles glisten. Handwritten prices give the bottle section a homey touch.
Jeremy invests most of his time carefully curating this wall with his diverse network of local winemakers – every bottle on that wall is there with good reason.
“It’s got to be value for money, it must be representative of its style and variety, it’s got to punch above its weight,” he says. “Everything we get in has to meet that criteria.”
As in Seddon, there’s no kitchen here. A concise menu includes smallgoods supplied by local businesses (Piper Street Food Co and MoVida included) and used in snacky platters and charcuterie and cheese boards.
Perfect domes of pâté, premium tinned anchovies and shell-less razor clams are also on offer.
Seddon probably leans more to a bottle shop than a bar, but in Ascot Vale the Honisetts noticed the opposite. So they added a few more timber bar tables to the floor, and upped the frequency of their rotating by-the-glass wine list, which will change every four to six weeks. Any bottle of wine can be purchased and enjoyed in-store for a small corkage fee. A range of local craft spirits and a short cocktail list is also available.
A few additions are still to come. Curb-side seating will be ready for summer, and Jeremy wants to add a few more decorative features to the walls.
“It needs some trinkets, and it needs to age,” he says. “We’ll get there.”
Union Wine Store
211 Union Road, Ascot Vale
Sun to Wed 11am–9pm
Thu to Fri 11am–10pm