The idea to open Chattanooga's first wine and cheese bar came to Hixson resident Rosabelle Garmon while she was visiting Napa Valley, Calif., where her brother was getting married. While touring area wineries and relaxing with family over wine, cheese and bread, she envisioned creating a similar place on Chattanooga's North Shore.
"I thought Chattanooga could really use a place like that," said Garmon, referring to the wine bars in Napa. "From the response I've gotten, I believe that's true."
She left her career in human resources at Volkswagen to pursue her dream, opening Brix Nouveaux with husband Marshall Garmon Aug. 30.
"I wanted to do something different and inspiring," she said of her plan for the business, named for the scale of measurement used in wine to determine the sugar content of grapes. "I figured, 'What greater way to spend my time than talking to people about wine?'"
Garmon does not claim to be an expert on wine but said she is a passionate learner and enjoys seeking out unique wines to add to her constantly changing selection, which already consists of more than 40 varieties.
She plans to focus on a particular grape variety each month. In September Brix Nouveaux is featuring rosés, offering flights with sparkling, dry and sweet wines in that varietal for customers to try.
"Some people love them and some people assume it's all pink juice, but there's actually a range of flavors," said Garmon of rosés.
Next month the bar will feature pinot noirs, with flights including wines from France, California and Oregon.
"I want to give people a chance to experience the taste of each place," said Garmon.
The flights require her to open bottles of a variety of unique wines, which means Brix Nouveaux also offers wines by the glass that would normally be available only by the bottle, she said.
Customers can choose from a range of cheeses, meats and other accompaniments such as honeycomb and Marcona almonds, as well as Bluff View Bakery breads, desserts from the Hot Chocolatier and coffee from Stone Cup. She said the entire menu changes at least once a month, and she welcomes customer suggestions for new menu items as well as additions to the wine selection.
Her favorite red wine is currently Chateau Ross, a petite syrah produced and bottled in Springfield, Tenn.
"It's one you're not going to find anywhere locally I'm aware of, yet," said Garmon, who would pair the dark, full-bodied and slightly spicy wine with either a cheddar, triple cream or soft goat cheese.
She said wines on the lower end of her price range that have been popular with customers include Argento Malbec and The Loop, a sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand.
Garmon said she chose the bar's location at 301 Cherokee Blvd. for its spacious outdoor patio, a rarity on the North Shore. She shares the space with Rachel Collins' Gallery 301.
"The wine bar gives her more exposure and gives people a taste of what she's got," said Garmon, adding that she gets the benefit of being surrounded by artwork she loves.
The situation is also ideal for their joint participation in events such as the Association of Visual Arts' recent Gallery Hop.