Monday, March 20, 2023

Wine Bar: A Realized Dream

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Brothers Nelson and Patton Valentine, along with their parents Lee and Helen Valentine and sister Mary Lela, opened the Wine Bar on Aug. 8 this past summer. The Valentine brothers shared their story with us about their family’s love for wine and Oxford that culminated into the Wine Bar. What inspired y’all to start this venue?
Nelson: Years ago, when my wife Liza and I lived in Atlanta, we frequented a wine bar that was a great spot to stop in grab a glass of wine and some food in a cool atmosphere. The menu was set up to allow you to choose a wine and based on your selection, it recommended a food item that would pair well, and vice versa if you chose a food item first. Over the years, we always talked about how great it would be to have a wine bar in Oxford with my family, but it was always causally and it was never something I thought we would actually do ourselves.
Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 2.38.55 PMPatton: Then, in September 2013, my family came out to Los Angeles to celebrate my mom’s birthday. During that trip we spent a day at Malibu Wines which is an outdoor wine tasting venue in Malibu where you can bring food and taste wine all day while you listen to live music. While we were there, our family started talking again about how great it would be if Oxford had a wine bar. My Dad then asked if we wanted to look into a little more seriously because he had someone in mind that may be interested in managing it. That person was Kevin Brooks, our current manager. So, while at Malibu Wines (maybe after a few glasses of wine), we agreed to pursue it seriously if Kevin was interested in coming on board. How did you choose the location?
Nelson: Oxford has always been where we wanted to open The Wine Bar. Our entire family graduated from Ole Miss and we love Oxford so much; we spend as much time in Oxford as possible. With respect to our actual location, I wouldn’t necessarily say we chose the location…luck and great timing played a big part in it. After Kevin decided to come on board, we reached out to a good friend of mine, Ryan Toms, who is in commercial real estate in Oxford. We told him what we were looking for and while we would love to be on the Square (obviously), we would be interested in other options as well. After a couple months and looking at numerous potential locations, we received word from Ryan on a Friday afternoon that there may be a spot opening up on the Square, where Roasted and Emileigh’s were located. One thing led to another and the next day, my Dad and Kevin were in Oxford looking at the location and by Sunday, we were reviewing and signing a lease. We love our location and feel very fortunate to be able to be located on the Oxford Square. Do you participate in choosing the wines or dishes?
Patton: We (Nelson and I) don’t personally participate in choosing the wines or dishes…we leave that to the experts! Kevin, the manager of The Wine Bar, and our executive chef, John Burge, choose the wine and dish selections. They work together to come up with a theme for which both the wine and dish selections are based – for example, we just finished our “West Coast Swing” where we featured wines from the West Coast of the United States along with dishes that complement those wines. We are now transitioning into a new theme and will continue to switch our wine and dish selections throughout the year.
Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 2.39.19 PMNelson: We are so fortunate to have our executive chef, John Burge at The Wine Bar. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, from his time as a chef in Napa Valley to his time as a wine consultant to his recent experience as executive chef at Lenora’s in Oxford. We told him he had an open slate with respect to the menu and he has far exceeded our expectations. The food at The Wine Bar is amazing! We’re very pleased with the way John and Kevin work together to design a menu where the wine and dishes complement each other so well. Our menu has both tapas style dishes and “shareable entrees” so a guest can come in and order a glass of wine and a tapas dish or two for a snack or they can come in for a full meal by ordering one of our entree options or a few of our tapas options. Our staff will also recommend wines to go with our dishes or recommend a dish to go with a certain wine. Do you know what is the most ordered wine or dish by customers at Wine Bar?
Nelson: Our menu changes often but we do have permanent dishes that will always be on the menu such as our Artisan Cheese Plate, Chicken and Waffle Sliders and Erika’s Reuben Rolls that are the most popular to date. For our home football weekends this year, John has added specials such as a Kobe beef strip, Scallops and a Surf and Turf option which have been extremely popular…we sold out of them each weekend in which they were offered.
Patton: With respect to wine, like our dishes, our wine selection changes often but to date, our most popular wines are La Crema Chardonnay, Meiomi Pinot Noir and the Cline Cashmere GSM. Our specialty cocktails are also very popular, including our Pomegranate Margarita and Brandy Alexander. We have also sold a lot of Sweetwater Blue beer which we have on tap.
The Wine Bar also has weekly specials now. Here is its schedule:
Wine Bar
The restaurant is at 401 S. Lamar. For more information visit its websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram. It also offers bookings from Sunday brunch to Christmas parties. It can be reached at 662-238-3500 to secure a spot, but remember its hours are 4 p.m. to wee hours every night with Mondays off.
Callie Daniels is the staff reporter for You can email her about this interview at