by Debby Critchley
Rick and Elizabeth Myllenbeck won’t admit to love at first sight when they met at a California winery. Sparks flew, but Rick’s job had him leaving three days later for Northern Virginia. However, love prevailed, they married, and moved to Old Town Alexandria. Now their second love, wine, is taking up most of their time. Newly opened Sonoma Cellar, LLC (soft opening mid-August) is an on/off premises California-inspired wine tasting room and bistro located at 207 King Street. They have transformed the more than 200-year-old building into a two-story restaurant and wine tasting room. “It has a great structural shell,” said Elizabeth. They created a California feel to both the building and cuisine while maintaining the antique feel while adding modern warmth. You’ll gasp at the beautiful curly maple bar built by local Casey Cromwell using wood from the Mount Vernon Estate, and marvel over the original fireplace and tiles in the main room.
Sonoma Cellar is “all about the wine, all about the experience” and offers an authentic California wine tasting featuring hand-selected wines from 200+ Sonoma County boutique wineries and 20+ Virginia-based wineries. Guests have the opportunity to taste varietals from robust growing regions. Sharing their passion for wine, and doing more than just pouring and selling wine, Rick and Elizabeth provide an eclectic mix of distinctive, California-inspired, seasonal craft-foods including panini, quinoa salad, shrimp with zucchini pasta, soups, kabobs, and lamb burgers prepared by Executive Chef Bernard Henry paired with enhancing wines. Enjoy your wine and meal on the patio or the dining areas upstairs.
The restaurant sells wines at retail plus a corkage fee in the restaurant. Customers can also taste a selection of wines with a $10 Select tasting of five 1 oz. pours, $15 for a Reserve tasting. “The wines we’ll offer, no one else has,” Rick says. They’ll also have a wine club and wine dinners.
Open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm; Friday 11:00 am to 11:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am brunch to 11:00 pm; Sunday 10:00 am brunch to 10:00 pm. A gift shop will also carry a variety of distinctive wine-related merchandise.