October is spooky season and one of Durham’s most beloved wine bars, lost to the pandemic, is rising from the dead. Bar Brunello is back, reincarnated as Brunello Wine Bar, and set to open its doors to the public later this week.
Former regulars of Bar Brunello will be pleased to see familiar faces pouring some of the hard-to-find wines the bar became known for, with longtime bartender Sergio Ramos joining Esteban Brunello as co-owner.
The bar itself has moved just a couple blocks into the center of Durham, occupying the space that once belonged to Jeddah’s Tea on CCB plaza.
(Side note: Jeddah’s Tea closed somewhat abruptly and mysteriously a few weeks ago, with eagle-eyed Reddit users noting that owner Morgan Siegel hadn’t been seen in the space in quite some time. Multiple attempts to contact Siegel via phone, email, and social media were unsuccessful.)
When it comes to this new iteration of Bar Brunello, Esteban notes that customers can expect a similar wine list and a familiar style of service at Brunello Wine Bar.
“The list, the vibe, the service — the idea is still the same one from the day I opened before, I want my guests to feel they are coming to my house to drink wine,” he says.
“With that being said, the bottle list is smaller and more detailed,” he explains. “With time it will expand more, but definitely not the 1000 wines we had at the old space.”
“That being honest, that was a little crazy and also amazing for how [small the space] was,” he adds.
With a new home in the center of town, the pair hope to be able to expose more customers to some of the small-scale wines they’re passionate about. Wines from Croatia, Lebanon, and Mexico were regularly on the list, alongside an extensive collection of Italian wines, one of Esteban’s passions.
“The new location will bring in tons of new faces alongside old regulars,” Ramos predicts.
“I think exposure is the word to use,” Esteban adds, “because the idea was always to expose people to different wines and think outside the box.”
With the Thursday opening, both Esteban and Ramos are ready to jump right back into the swing of things. “Sergio and I are the same, just a little older, but hopefully we aged well, like some wines do,” Esteban says, laughing.
“To be behind the bar with Esteban again sharing our love for all things wine will just feel right,” Ramos adds. “It’s going to feel like home again.”
Brunello Wine Bar opens at 123 Market Street, Suite A, this Thursday, October 20, at 4 p.m.