Location a major selling feature for London’s only Wine Bar

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Back in 2012, Laura Del Maestro and Mario Jozic were mulling over the idea of opening a wine bar in London, but after pitching their plans to friends and family, the general consensus seemed to be this was a terrible idea.

Jump ahead a few years and that idea, which became London Wine Bar, is celebrating its third anniversary in the downtown even as a second location — launched last December in Wortley Village — begins to take hold.

The couple, who are avid travellers, were actually visiting Paris when they came across “this tiny wine bar” that spoke exactly to the “terrible idea” they had pitched to their friends and family years before.

“It wasn’t snobby; it was laid back, it was very approachable, they even had dogs in there. People were sharing charcuterie, drinking wine, there was stuff written on the walls, it was the most laid-back place we’d been to in a while,” Mario said. “We definitely didn’t associate it with the wine scene we knew here. We thought this casual, laid back place could be different for us, something that’s unique and we wanted to try it.”

The original London Wine Bar was launched at 420 Talbot St., between Milos' Craft Beer Emporium and Fitzray’s Restaurant & Lounge — not to mention just down the street from Budweiser Gardens.

The location, Mario said, was a big selling feature for the business.

“We believe the fact there are other restaurants downtown will bring people here,” Mario said. “Fitzray’s has been here, Milo’s has been there for years, so we figured being in the middle would help, plus the arena, it all worked for us.”

As excited as they were to launch their plans into action, Mario jokes — well, maybe jokes — they weren’t sure it would succeed, but they figured it was worth a try.

“When we went into it, we thought how much money can we lose? But we gave it a try,” he said. “If we didn’t open it, somebody else would have, because you now see charcuterie and wine everywhere.”

Mario describes the couple’s approach to wine as “laid back, approachable, easy going,” which is something they wanted to make a hallmark of their establishment.

It was also important, Laura adds, to “get back to the roots,” local artisan products, and really highlight what London and area have in terms of wine and food.

“If anybody could do it, it would be us our passion. We really try to bring in our favourite things from all over the world,” she said. “If we enjoyed it somewhere in the world, the likelihood is that others in London who hadn’t had the opportunity to go elsewhere, we’d bring it here for them.”

Of course, that approach means the couple still likes to get away from the Forest City and feed into their passion for travel.

Who knows, Laura said, what their next big find might be.

That said, they also focus on some more low-key and local ways to relax.

“We like to be active. We like to drink wine, go for walks and see what the city has to offer,” she said. “We get locked in so much we often don’t get to experience the other amazing things happening in the city. Work hard, play hard is how we usually define ourselves.”

Erin JohannsonCarling Lane