Your Friendly & Fearless
Neighborhood Wine Shop
Established in 2012, we are a retail wine shop specializing in the world's best small-production, naturally-crafted wines.
We also have a selection of specialty spirits, canned beers from local breweries, interesting N/A beverages, gourmet tinned seafood, cheese, and Bellegarde Bakery bread.
Our in-house wine bar offers an ever-changing array of interesting and affordable wines by the glass.
We host wine tastings on most Wednesday evenings; check our calendar for details.
Who Owns this Place?
My name is Cat James
My favorite pairing is fresh raw oysters with old Muscadet, but my ride-or-die AOC is Chablis.
Originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, I moved to New Orleans in 2002. I had a previous career in security and investigations, but I hope to never wear a business suit again. I also worked part-time in all kinds of restaurants for most of my life.
I'm a mother to an awesome Plessy School kid. I enjoy way too many hobbies, including gemology, macrame, cooking, hiking, and leather crafts.
My wine journey really began in the aftermath of the 2005 federal flood following Hurricane Katrina. I am not a Somm; my wine expertise is built on decades of tasting and experiences.
Photo Credit: Kevin Martt
The Origin Story
And What it Means Today
Back in October of 2005, the city of New Orleans re-opened the parish line, allowing a slow trickle of dazed, forlorn residents to return to a modern ruin. Food and supplies were very difficult to obtain. Most of the vehicles on the street were caravans of humvees, and about half of the pedestrians one encountered in public were members of the military carrying machine guns. The days were long, and the nights very, very quiet. The curfew meant that no one was allowed out after dark; those who broke curfew risked being jailed in a tent city beneath the interstate. This was the immediate aftermath of the New Orleans levee failures, often referred to as "Hurricane Katrina."
This was the backdrop for a tiny miracle: a small wine shop opened its doors for the first time.
This was not our shop. But, this is the beginning of our story.
The little shop only needed one employee. My name is Catherine, aka Cat, and I was that employee. I qualified for three reasons: first, I had a few years of New Orleans fine dining under my belt. Second, I lived just around the corner. Third, there was no one else around.
During the year that followed, I learned a lot about wine: I learned the basics of how it's made, I learned about the places it comes from and why. I met many people who make it. I learned the names and qualities of hundreds of varietals, and why some work better in one place than another. All of this was interesting and eye-opening.
Most importantly, though, running that tiny oasis of a shop nearly every day and night for more than a year in post-apocaIyptic New Orleans, where everyone was shattered, lost, and terrified, I learned that wine has special powers: It forms and strengthens bonds. It creates a centerpiece and a conduit for human emotional support. It facilitates healing through communion. Wine literally "brings people to the table," but it also eases their ability to connect, share, and help each other.
I took all of these lessons with me when sadly, that little shop closed in 2006. I continued to work in the New Orleans wine business as a distribution sales rep for about a year, but then returned to my pre-Katrina career, which I thought of at the time as my "real" job.
Having been so enchanted by wine, though, of course I continued learning on my own, and even kept the door cracked open to the local wine business for awhile, helping friends with their mid-city shop, and hosting wine tastings.
I moved into the Marigny in 2009. And in 2011, when I had a son, my "real" job wasn't a good fit for me anymore. Traveling for a month at a time was not something I was willing to do as a new mom. So, I quit- and instead, I created my own tiny New Orleans miracle: I opened a boutique wine shop on St. Claude Avenue.
Since our opening day on Thanksgiving 2012, my staff and I have worked hard to create a very special, welcoming, inclusive place for everyone to enjoy the magic of wine, and the natural human connection it inspires. What sets our shop apart is that we are less focused on the transaction of selling wine, and more involved in the experiences and interactions that are naturally enhanced by wine.
When you come in to buy, you won't hear us say, "What are you looking for?" Instead, we'll ask you about context. Who is it for? Why? Where are you going? Before you know it, you're engaged in a conversation, and probably laughing, because everyone who works here has a great sense of humor. Next, you'll quickly be handed the perfect bottle, because by now, we understand you, and we know just what to do.
If you have a bit of time and decide to stay a bit longer, you'll be welcomed into a community clubhouse full of colorful characters divulging intimate antecdotes, as well as friends and strangers sharing laughs, encouragement, valuable information and advice. Also, the wine is truly great, although that falls into the background, eventually.
From the beginning, our goal has been to build community through wine, and I'm happy to say it's worked out really well. I'm also happy to tell you that you're invited. We hope to see you soon.
2805 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
Marigny ~ Bywater ~ St. Roch
We host wine tastings most Wednesdays from 5-7 PM. These tastings are open to the public, and no reservations are taken. Just show up!
There is a $5/person tasting fee, but the fee is refunded with any same-day purchase.
We recommend arriving before 6:30 to be sure you don't miss out on any of the wines. There are typically four wines available to taste, and each week is different. Follow us on Instagram for sneak peeks of our weekly tastings.
Check our calendar to find out if we have a tasting this week!