A new independent bookstore and wine bar bring together reading and drinking in East Central Austin. Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar will open at 1101 East 11th Street in September.
Owner Jean Elizabeth Buckner wanted to open her own book and wine business because she loves two things. “I look forward to being behind the bar and talking to our customers about what’s new this season and my book and wine pairing recommendations,” she says. “I hope to build a place of inclusion and connection, a place that brings people together.” She refers to Vintage as “Austin’s living room”.
While bookstores have been doing very well commercially in recent years, Buckner wanted to complete its offer and landed on wine. “Books and wine have gone together since the dance of time,” she says, noting that she reads everywhere, including in bars. “I realized I’d like to have a relaxing environment to read with a glass of wine in hand that wasn’t in my house. What if I could hang out drinking wine? Even better.”
Buckner was employed at a tech company after moving from Florida to Austin when she finally decided to pursue her bookstore career. She worked out her plan with her husband, then quit her job last fall to start working at the Dripping Springs Bell Springs winery and simultaneously taking online bookstore classes.
The book selection will focus on new books spanning all kinds of genres. Buckner is personally a fan of fiction, and particularly fond of fantasy and contemporary novels. The boutique will also host a free book exchange stand on the patio.
One of Buckner’s favorite things is reading in the Hill Country vineyards. “The more I learned about the winemakers in our own backyard, the more I realized there was an opportunity to show our community the quality and tenacity of local Texas winemakers,” she says. Vintage’s wine list will include many Hill Country wineries, as well as domestic and international offerings. She plans to partner with a local winery each month for specials at a later time. His personal favorites include Bell Springs, Driftwood Estate Winery and Signor Vineyards.
Thus, there will be different wines by the glass, as well as a sparkling wine on tap and a changing wine spray. Aside from wine, there will be cans of beer, coffee, cold brews and Austin-area teas. For food, the shop will offer grazing boxes from local company Cultured ATX, with cheese, fruit, charcuterie and condiments. On deck, you’ll also find sweet and savory kolaches and other baked goods.
The bar service area will include shelving (naturally), as well as lounge seating with tufted armchairs and velvet sofas. There will be two patios and a small stage, so she can host events like author readings, talks, concerts and trivia. Furniture comes from thrift stores, markets and estate sales.
The physical bookstore/wine bar is in the historic Haehnel Building, which had been a grocery store in the 1800s, Shorty’s Bar from the 1960s through the 1980s, and a wine store at one time. Buckner does not plan to use the entire building for Vintage. She is looking for office tenants for three of the currently unused spaces.
The name is a misnomer since the shop does not sell second-hand books; rather, it refers to vintages of wine grapes. But for Buckner, there’s a bigger meaning behind the name. “Items described as ‘vintage’ are seen as unique and personal with the understanding that they have seen a lot of life,” she says. “We believe our store is exactly that. We offer a welcoming space rooted in the community that is as unique as our wonderful neighbors. And our décor and aesthetics reflect that as well.
Prior to opening the full business, Buckner sold books at local farmers markets. There is also an online store through the independent bookshop-focused e-commerce site Bookshop.org.