WORDS Michaela Stehr PHOTOS Supplied
From small, cosy and intimate to big and bold, we’ve rounded up our pick of the most beautifully conceived local wine bars for you to pour your heart into.
In the centre of Jozi’s Rosebank is the instantly iconic rectangular black building known as The Bank (which we featured in VISI 117). Proud Mary is the multiuse building’s restaurant and statement wine bar, offering discerning customers an extensive collection of small- batch, local and independent wines in a sleek, Art Deco- inspired setting that features plush textures, terrazzo, brass and natural wood finishes. The food menu celebrates cuisine from around the world, offering a refined, casual, modern approach to dining – just right for a luxe night out.
Culture Wine Bar
Owned by Matt Manning of Grub & Vine on Cape Town’s trendy Bree Street, Culture offers a curated selection of South African cult classics as well as some hidden gems, speciality international imports and natural wines, in a warm and inviting atmosphere. “The Wanderlist” is the name of Culture’s exciting recent collab with Radford Dale – a selection of premium imports from around the world that’s kept in a state-of-the-art, temperature-controlled wine fridge. And what of the food menu? “Culture follows the same ethos as our bistro: simple, honest and delicious fare that works beautifully with wine,” says Matt.
Voisin Bread & Wine
Voisin (“neighbour” in French) is a micro-bakery and boutique wine store run by Jaco Smit at 44 Stanley in Joburg. All the ingredients used here are locally sourced: think stone- ground flour from Prieska and the Drakensberg, hand-harvested sea salt from the Kalahari, filtered water, and natural leavening. It takes about 36 hours from start to finish to create a loaf, and no two are the same. Alongside the bread, Voisin specialises in uncommon, exciting wines from underrated South African producers, resolutely supporting winemakers who focus on organic viticulture and natural winemaking. Join the team for unique, free tasting experiences on Saturdays, from 11am onwards.
Flor Wine Bar
This understated, fresh-looking spot brings a taste of Italy to Joburg. Situated on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Bolton Road, Flor shares a space with Coalition Pizza – fitting, since pizza and wine are boon companions. With an almost completely Italian wine list on the chalkboard (South African wines are available on request), you can scan the options for wines by the bottle or glass – or, if you’re feeling rebellious, opt for a classic margarita.
READ MORE: 4 Fun New Local Rooftop Bars
Leo’s Wine Bar
Popular Cape Town CBD lunch spot Max Bagels transforms into a hole-in-the-wall wine bar by night. Founded by Matthew Freemantle, the intimate spot spills out onto the pavement in the evenings. Favouring wines that are made with minimal intervention, unusual cultivars and alternative winemaking processes, the Leo’s list changes constantly – which means a new experience with each visit. The team often collaborates with chefs and winemakers on pop-ups and takeovers, but constants on the food menu include the famous pizza bagels and a variety of bar snacks to complement the curated list of wines.
From the very beginning, innovative and alternative wine bar Publik had been conceptualised to veer away from the stereotypical watering hole. Owner David Cope’s idea was to take the snobbery out of wine with a humble and heartwarming space, now in its second iteration on the corner of Kloof Nek Road in Cape Town.
A cute terrazzo-and-wood hatch opens to the street, with wooden and metal bar stools lining the exterior of the space. “We try to find the most interesting varietals, so guests don’t have to browse another list filled with wines they already know, but can instead try something interesting,” David explains. “Often, these wines are made by smaller producers who deserve more recognition; hence we like to support them. Rather than offering a huge list, we rotate wines to ensure there’s always something new.” Food options include cheese and meat boards, and other delectable items sourced from local suppliers.