South County Update

Hurricane Ian Damaged Multiple Local Wine Bars. Here's How They're Faring.

Now is the time to show support for these great establishments.

By Bob McGinn November 9, 2022

Beach Road Wine Bar and Bistro, after Hurricane Ian passed through Englewood.

Northern Sarasota County dodged the proverbial bullet from the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian. However, that was not the case in south county. I spoke with owners at several local wine bars to grasp how the storm affected them. Some were damaged extensively. Others, not so much. Either way, now is the time to show support for these great establishments:

Rumours Wine Bar, Englewood

A lovely, intimate wine bar in a large mall, Rumours offers a varied menu of food and a large wine selection and is one of the few local bars open during the day. I spoke with Dana Kuhn, the proprietor. She was in Italy during the storm while her son and staff managed the bar. They opened three days after the storm, once power was restored. She lost food, but experienced no structural damage. However, many roofs in the plaza were blown off.

Beach Road Wine Bar & Bistro, Englewood

More of a restaurant than a wine bar, this business is situated on Lemon Bay, serving more than 40 wines by the glass and excellent meals. The business was totally devastated by the storm. I spoke with Tracy Warren, the general manager, who is now at Beach Road's sister restaurant, The Waverly, on Englewood Beach. The second restaurant was also damaged, but she says she believes the first floor might be open for business in a couple months.

Vino Loco, Englewood

This has always been a fun place. It's small and intimate, and the food is always top-notch, with a Spanish flair. It is a tapas bar and the staff encourage sharing small plates and experiencing the variety. On my visit I enjoyed albondigas (Spanish meatballs) with a glass of albarino. Wonderful. The restaurant has been under new ownership since last year. Lisa Carpenter, formerly a worker at Vino Loco, became a regional manager for a Florida wine distributor, but is now back as the owner. Her goal is to keep the offerings and the staff as they are. Although Carpenter's home was extensively damaged, Vino Loco only suffered some water intrusion and had to close for a few days. But today, nearly all the seats are filled.

The Zebra Lounge, Venice

A unique entity, the Zebra is a very nice piano bar with music every night and more than 200 wine selections. Ari Aisenberg, the owner, used to run a wine bar in Sarasota's Burns Court. Only open after 7 p.m., the Zebra attracts a lively crowd that often spills out onto the sidewalk, and is a great place for seniors. I spoke with Aisenberg about the storm. He was closed for one week since the city shut off water and Florida Power & Light cut power to the area. He lost all his food, but is now in recovery mode. It was jammed on the recent night I visited.

Devine’s Wine Bar, Venice

Tom Devine, a veteran of the wine business, opened Devine's a few years ago. Located in a small mall, it has a welcoming atmosphere, if somewhat dark. Devine is gregarious and offers a multitude of events, including wine bingo, trivia nights, wine dinners and wine tasting events. He lost power for eight days, but his home was fine, so he moved the best wines there. In a rare twist of fate, October ended up being one of his best months.

Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at

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