Wine has, for centuries, been a beverage that tells a story. Each bottle narrates the tale of its vine, the hands that nurtured it, and the soil that lent it character. At Winona’s, nestled in Northern Bed-Stuy, the storytelling is accentuated when a glass is poured, and the narrative is one of nature, authenticity, and community.
The visionaries behind Winona’s, Cressida Greening and Emir Dupeyron, have transformed their family-run establishment into a haven for natural wine enthusiasts. For the uninitiated, natural wines, largely unmanipulated and minimally intervened during the production process, exude raw charm and genuine flavors, making each sip an intimate experience.
In a city teeming with wine bars, what sets Winona’s apart is its roots. Originating from supper clubs hosted in the adjoining apartment, Winona’s has preserved that personal touch, warmth, and sense of community. The idea was simple, yet profound: gather people, known and unknown, around one long table and let the conversations flow, guided by the wines on offer.
The wine list at Winona’s, though ever-evolving, is carefully curated. Whether you prefer the effervescence of the Jo Landron, Brut Atmosphères from the Loire valley or the subtle hues of the Angiolino Maule, Sassaia from Veneto, each glass tells its own tale. Then there’s the Podere Pradarolo, Ex Alba, a skin contact wine that takes the taster on a journey to the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, emphasizing the traditional winemaking techniques that define the essence of natural wines.
Complementing the wines is a menu that is as carefully crafted. Each dish, from the scotch egg, encased with mustard and cornichons, to the baked ricotta, a house-made delight paired with sourdough toast, is designed to be a palate pleaser. For those with a penchant for seafood, the steelhead trout crudo, with beet purée and smoked trout roe, is a revelation. As the evening matures, one might lean towards the grilled teres major steak, a succulent cut that whispers tales from the grill.
Yet, it’s not just about the wines or the food. The essence of Winona’s is its invitation to linger. The environment is conducive to unhurried conversations, unhindered laughter, and an uncorked spirit. The apéro hour, for instance, hosted on their outdoor patio and front café, is not just about the discounts; it’s a nod to the European tradition of enjoying a relaxed pre-dinner drink, encouraging camaraderie among patrons.
The weekend brunch menu is a nod to classics with a twist. The Full Winona offers a hearty breakfast spread, while the ricotta pancake, drizzled with summer berry compote, is a sweet lover’s delight.
Behind the scenes, Winona’s isn’t just about serving. It is about educating, discussing, and engaging. With regular community events featuring guest chefs, wine experts, and food activists, they aim to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of the food and drink industry. It’s an effort to not just satiate hunger and quench thirst but to feed the mind and spirit.
At its heart, Winona’s remains a community space, true to its origins. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or someone looking to dip your toes into the vast ocean of natural wines, Winona’s promises an experience that transcends the ordinary. It’s where wine is not just tasted but felt, dishes are not just consumed but cherished, and moments are not fleeting but frozen in time.
In the ever-evolving tapestry of New York’s culinary scene, Winona’s stands as a testament to the timeless charm of shared experiences, the lure of authenticity, and the simple pleasure derived from a glass of wine, natural in character and rich in narrative.
Author: Henry Davis