A new independent bookstore and wine bar is bringing together reading and drinking in Central East Austin. Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar’s opening date at 1101 East 11th Street has been delayed to Saturday, October 15.
Owner Jean Elizabeth Buckner wanted to open her own books-and-wine business because it’s two things she’s fond of. “I look forward to being behind the bar and talking to our customers about this season’s newest releases and my recommended book and wine pairings,” she says. “I hope to build a place of inclusion and connection, a place that brings people together.” She’s been referring to Vintage as “Austin’s living room.”
While bookstores have been doing very well business-wise in recent years, Buckner desired to round out her offerings 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 would love to have a chill environment to read with a glass of wine in hand that wasn’t my own home. And if I could browse while drinking wine? Even better.”
Buckner was employed at a tech company after moving from Florida to Austin when she finally decided to embark on her bookstore path. She worked out her plan with her husband, and then quit her job last fall to start working at Dripping Springs winery Bell Springs and simultaneously take online bookselling courses.
The book selection will focus on new books spanning all sorts of genres. Buckner is personally a fan of fiction, and especially fond of fantasy and contemporary romance books. The shop will also host a free book exchange stand on the patio.
One of Buckner’s favorite things to do is to read at Hill Country wineries. “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 Texas’s local vintners,” she says. Vintage’s wine list will include numerous Hill Country wineries, as well as national and international offerings. She plans on partnering with a local winery every month for specials at a later point. Personal favorites of hers include Bell Springs, Driftwood Estate Winery, and Signor Vineyards.
As such, there will be various wines by the glass, plus a draft sparkling wine and a changing wine spritzer. Non-wine-wise, there will be Austin-area beer cans, coffee, tapped cold brew, and teas. For food, the shop will offer grazing boxes from the local company Cultured ATX, with cheese, fruits, charcuterie, and condiments. Also on deck will be sweet and savory kolaches and other baked goods.
The bar-service space will include bookshelves (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, discussions, concerts, and trivia. The furniture is sourced from second-hand stores, markets, and estate sales.
The physical bookstore/wine bar is found in the historic Haehnel Building, which had been a grocery store in the 1800s, Shorty’s Bar from the 1960s to the 1980s, and a wine shop at some point. Buckner doesn’t plan on using the whole building for Vintage. She’s looking for office tenants for three of the unused spaces right now.
The name is a misnomer since the shop doesn’t sell used books; rather, it refers to wine grape vintages. But for Buckner, there’s a grander meaning behind the name. “Items described as ‘vintage’ are perceived as unique and personal with the understanding that they’ve 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 decor and aesthetic reflect that as well.”
Before opening the full business, Buckner had been selling books at local farmers markets. There’s also an online shop through the independent bookstore-focused e-commerce site Bookshop.org.
Update, September 20, 11:45 a.m.: This article, originally published on July 15, has been updated to include Vintage’s delayed opening date.