Over the past few years, oenophiles in Houston have seen some real progress made toward bringing more and more varied wine options to the masses. When you can immediately rattle off a handful of exceptional bars, restaurants, and stores—among them 13 Celsius, Light Years, Montrose Cheese and Wine, La Grande Rue, How To Survive on Land and Sea—you know things are in good shape.
And things may only be getting better. This summer, prepare to fill up at Roots Wine Bar, located at 3107 Leeland St and promising more than 50 self-serving wines on tap.
Wine taps are nothing new, but the do-it-yourself aspect is catching on nationally and has been slow to invade the Bayou City. One spot, Shoot The Moon, is in the works for Spring Branch, and that will focus on beer but will have a few wine taps too. Roots will be devoted solely to wine, offering 1-, 3-, and 5-ounce pours, along with bottles for take-home consumption. Each wine will come with tasting notes, and Roots will have "wine advisers," who will offer assistance and suggestions to customers.
"The ability to buy by the ounce and curate and navigate your own wine experience is something that I think will resonate with a lot of people," says Paul Siwek, co-founder of Roots and a native Houstonian. Siwek and Lori Hernandez, an East End native, devised the idea for Roots a few years ago, finding their space in 2018.
To round out the team, they brought on JD Fouche, previously of Reef and Riel, to run the day-to-day as executive chef and general manager. Fouche is devising a menu of what he's calling "Gulf-regional with a Southern touch" cuisine, which should follow his philosophy of working with in-season local ingredients.
"Ordinarily in wine bars, the food unfortunately plays second fiddle, but we have an opportunity for both the wine and the food to be the star," Fouche says. "It's a wine bar first and foremost, but there's nothing that says we can't elevate and have great food pairings."
Echoing its fast-changing environs, Roots will have a modern-industrial look in its 2,800-square-foot space with (what looks like bright sunflower) interiors by Native Citizen. There'll be three distinct areas—a main lounge, 1,600-square-foot patio, and private room—but the bar will feel more open and organic, the partners say, making it nimble and easy to evolve.
That goes for the wine itself too. The tap list will be varied and open ended, though Roots wants to especially feature New World (but not just Napa) wineries. Also, cost is no barrier. Guests should have opportunities to taste pours of wines that they could later buy at the bar for hundreds of dollars. Maybe that wouldn't have been the case a few years ago, but hey ...
"That's the beauty we have with the wine changing and the neighborhood that's changing," Hernandez says. "We can offer something that's always evolving and never the same."