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Wine Snobs and Poseurs Not Welcome at Chapel Hill’s Rocks + Acid

Sommelier Paula de Pano launches her wine bar and shop today

Smiling woman behind a counter next to bottles of wine.
Paula de Pano’s wine bar Rocks + Acid opens today.
Daniel Turbert Photography

Rocks + Acid (712 Market Street, Chapel Hill), the much-anticipated wine shop, wine bar, and classroom from sommelier Paula de Pano, opens to the public today. The shop, in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village, represents something of a “coming of age” for de Pano, the culmination of a career in wine that has seen her rise to become one of the South’s most influential wine industry professionals.

De Pano, who most recently was the beverage director for the Fearrington House, a AAA Five Diamond Relais and Chateaux property in Pittsboro, North Carolina, has created a space highlighting some of the wines, and winemaking styles, that excite her most. Apropos of the name, Rocks+ Acid will heavily feature terroir-driven wines with an emphasis on acidity. Women-owned wineries and wines from female winemakers will also be front and center.

The space itself speaks to that attention on the wine — sleek blonde wood shelves and sparse decoration put the focus on the bottles rather than the physical shop itself. The wines are not organized by region or grape type, a conscious decision that invites customers to engage with de Pano and her staff when making a selection.

Light wood shelves full of wine bottles
Rocks + Acid offers a range of bottles in its Chapel Hill space
Daniel Turbert Photography

In addition to retail wine and wine by the glass, Rocks + Acid will have a heavy emphasis on wine education. The large communal table in the center of the shop will be the setting for both private and public wine classes, including de Pano’s signature champagne and caviar pairing class.

At a recent preview event, de Pano watched attendees rotate through the space, sampling wines from some of the local distributors that she loves and will carry in the shop. It was the culmination of a lifelong dream for de Pano. This week will see her welcome the public to experience wine through the lens of some of her core principles, which in her words, “discourage[s] the wine snobs and poseurs” and “invite[s] everyone interested in wines, from the curious to the savvy.”

Ten percent of opening day proceeds (and every first Wednesday of the month) will support Inclusive Therapists, a national BIPOC therapy fund, uplifting students and emerging clinicians of color.

Rocks + Acid is open Wednesdays through Sundays.