After returning from a trip to France, Lisa Parks went looking at a wine shop in Denver for a bottle of sauvignon blanc she had enjoyed overseas. At first intimidated, Parks said, she instead found a down-to-earth shop owner willing to help.
“He was the one who made me understand, it’s not snobby,” she said. “It’s juice. It should not have that snob factor to it.”
Parks, with her partner, Erik Dix, hopes to bring that same nonjudgmental atmosphere, along with the wines of Oregon and the world, to Astoria with Brut Wine Bar. They hope to open in the coming weeks on 10th Street in the Occident Building.
Parks previously worked as a wine representative for Galaxy Wine Co., securing bottles for businesses between Astoria and Neskowin.
“It really grew my knowledge of wine,” she said. “It really grew my knowledge of the area.”
Parks came to the North Coast from Denver, where her transition from being a victim’s advocate with the local police to wine started in 2007 after she developed a hobby to help cope with a stressful job.
“It’s hard to do for a long time,” she said. “It’s super-emotional. I’m in awe of anyone that does it. It’s a hard job, an important one. But I just felt like I needed something a little more — I don’t know — lighter.”
Parks worked at a local wine shop and eventually enrolled in a sommelier academy, where she learned about all aspects of wine, viniculture and history. Soon thereafter, she left Colorado for Oregon to be nearer to world-class wine.
A year ago, Parks was introduced to Dix, a former civil and forestry engineer who spent 12 years sailing around the South Pacific before returning to be nearer to family. The two secured a narrow storefront in the Occident Building and started building out Brut Wine Bar, named after a term for dry champagne or sparkling wine.
The bar, the second in Astoria after WineKraft Wine Bar at Pier 11, will include a rotating cast of wine pours and bottles available for consumption on site or to go, along with a small selection of beers and cider. Brut will also serve small plates of cheese, charcuterie and smoked meats.
The space sports a dark, 1920s feel, with a tin roof, brick wall and custom walnut bar. The couple had hoped to open by now but were stymied by health complications throughout the summer. They hope to open within the next few weeks and advised those interested to monitor Brut’s social media accounts.
“I’ve noticed that with my previous job, Astoria didn’t die off in the winter,” Parks said. “So I’m thrilled to be able to spend more time getting to know more of the locals who like wine.”