They launched a wine shop during the pandemic and they’re still going strong. Taste with me and two of Houston’s leading wine entrepreneurs this Friday.

Some may remember my post from September of last year, “How to open a wine shop during a pandemic,” about Vesper Wine owners and founders Aisha Savage-Shirley and James Oliver (above) who opened their retail program in Houston at the height of the lockdowns.

We had all become friends in 2019 after James took part in an Italy-America Chamber of Commerce trip to Vinitaly (I’m a consultant for the chamber).

I’ll never forget the last time we were all together, in the late fall of that year. We connected at another Houston wine shop and wine bar for what turned out to be a holiday party — one of the last before we were all stuck at home.

When I found out that they had decided to move forward with their plans for a new wine shop in an underserved neighborhood of our city, I called James to see if they would be up for a video chat to share on the blog.

You can view our chat on YouTube here. In the video, James explains how they swiftly reimagined their business model to focus on home delivery and curbside fulfillment. More than a year later, Vesper Wine is going strong and has expanded to in-store and off-site tastings as well.

On Friday of this week, James, Aisha, and I will be presenting a flight of three Italian wines paired with a menu from Roma restaurant (where I’m the wine director). We’ll also be spinning some Yé-Yé pop, a throwback to my rock ‘n’ roll days in New York with the French band Nous Non Plus.

It’s going to be a super fun event and tasting. And who knows where the night will lead us!

If you’re in Houston this week, please join us. Click here for details.

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