There’s a new scene in town, where the art of fine wine, gourmet food pairings, hip music, sleek décor and museum quality art all converge. Foodie entrepreneur Tony Solo has finally opened his long awaited Wine Scene at 501 Fern Street, next to the mural-filled courtyard coined the Bier Garten and the future site of Eat Scene, a gourmet vendor filled building.
The airy two-story street front space has been taken over by Nicole Henry Fine Art, whose sharp eye and exquisite taste fills the gallery and wine bar with first class art from the likes of Eduard Duval Carie, whose work is in major museums such as the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, and photographer Terry O’Neill, check out his jaw dropping 1960s photos of Raquel Welch and a smoking Brigette Bardot.
Solo has been in Florida’s real estate market for over 2 decades, helping develop and establish properties. The Wine Scene in West Palm Beach is truly a labor of love and experience, as he says it’s “a professional wine drinker’s haven and an amateur drinker’s safe-place. Located between nightlife chaos and lively dinner destinations, the Wine Scene is this hidden gem in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach. This establishment appeals to the aesthetics with an incredible environment highlighting fine art and amazing architecture. Pair that with a 5 oz. glass from our exclusive wine list and ambiance will immediately follow.”
They serve over 45 different kinds of wine by the glass, and keep the opened bottles in a space age looking stainless steel and glass contraption called the Enomatic. Handmade in the heart of Chiati Italy, the Enomatic is designed by premier wine makers and engineers to preserve open bottles of wine and to serve it elegantly and unscathed by exposure to air. It keeps open bottles fresh for 30 days or more, but at the rate Wine Scene is pouring, it’s doubtful any bottle will be strapped to the Enomatic for long.
Solo and Operations Manager, Jeremiah Bennett, pulled the scene together in about 4 weeks, immediately after the heralded Highwaymen painting exhibit came down in February. At that point the space was pretty raw, now it glows with flattering lighting, leather chairs, high top tables, long communal tables and couches, seating to suit any party configuration.
“We really want to activate Fern Street for the retail market,” Solo says on a balmy evening in the Bier Garten over a mellow glass of Pinot Grigio. “We’ll have the Green Market on summer and lots of special events out here in the courtyard as well as in the Wine Scene bar. We plan to host special dinners and bring in wine makers from all over to share their expertise. We have a projection system running inside and can also bring one outside to show films or presentations for corporate/ private events. It’s a really an all-purpose, flexible space.”
With further plans for an Art Alley in the property Solo owns behind this one, he is really pioneering an area and building quite a stylish scene. Initially the area he purchased was zoned for residential condos ten years ago, but was changed to commercial property. Inside the white walled space accented with gray, black and industrial steel, the black topped bar is ground zero for watching the staff craft the small plates. Carefully slicing cheeses and meats, piling spiced nuts, fig jams, and baguettes onto wood serving slabs, the staff takes enormous care in the presentation. The wine is measured precisely into 5-ounce portions and served in long stemmed delicate glasses at exactly the proper temperature. The menu breaks down which small plates pair best with which wines. They also serve up a major frothy cappuccino, little bittersweet chocolates and other tempting goodies. In a Florida landscape littered with too large portions and careless piling onto plates, this is a real revelation of how much care and respect should be given to the very fruits of the earth.
The newly gallery created by Nicole Henry has really first rate art, Henry also offers art services such as why it is important for an art consultant to pause and help collectors connect personally with their art. She says on her site to “Choose an art consultant who asks you questions and wants to know more about you and your tastes before they introduce you to the art pieces. It’s a journey. Don’t go on the journey with someone who doesn’t pause and connect with you. Don’t go on the journey with someone who doesn’t understand the connection that is made with just the right art piece. It doesn’t always have to be talked about; it is felt.”
She can also help new collectors understand the confusing current market values of art and how to ask about provenance (the history and authenticity of the artwork) to make sure they have the correct documentation on the pieces they are purchasing. She advises to “Pause, connect and love the art piece — then, get the facts!”