It’s all go at The Oxford Wine Cellar on the city’s High Street as the final preparations are completed ready for next week’s grand opening.
Ted Sandbach, Oxford Wine Company owner, who recently took on the site from Oriel College, is on hand to oversee the work and make sure his brand new wine bar is finished in time.
‘so many sites just didn’t have what I was looking for, until I came here’
While we chat, the building hubris continues; floors being laid, wallpaper hung on the snug’s walls and electricians hard at work. The solid oak bar is being polished, glasses hung behind on the exposed brick wall and the bright blue window banquettes unpacked.
Downstairs interior designer Emma Finneron is on hand to ensure that the six month project is completed in time. In short, it’s all hands on deck.
‘We wanted a site that would really stand out and this plot on the corner of the High Street and King Edward Street ticked all the boxes’
An oasis of calm, Ted is delighted, not only with the site, but with its prospects: “We have been looking for a new location for years,” he tells me. “So when the former Sweaty Betty shop on Oxford’s High Street popped up, I snuck over to have a look and that was that.
“I’ve been looking for an old building with character for quite some time, yet so many sites just didn’t have what I was looking for, until I came here,” he says.
“We wanted a site that would really stand out and this plot on the corner of the High Street and King Edward Street ticked all the boxes, so it’s a cracking site.”
‘I think the High Street is really going to come into its own as Oxford’s new foodie area’
“It’s double fronted and look at the views,” he says beckoning out across the road to the glories of Brasenose College.
So after a six month makeover which included converting the downstairs former yoga studio into additional seating, kitchens, storerooms and loos, Ted is absolutely delighted with the results.
Not that The Oxford Wine Cellar hasn’t been without its challenges. A fire caused by a floor sander burned through to the joists, setting work back a week, and the basement needed to be waterproofed, but with the opening date set for next Wednesday, it’s all systems go.
“It’s been a huge project, but I’ve always said we need to be somewhere that’s busy with the right sort of clientele and I think the High Street is really going to come into its own as Oxford’s new foodie area.
“It has a great footfall and more and more restaurants and cafes are opening up here. So I hope The Oxford Wine Cellar will add to Oxford High Street’s renaissance as Oxford’s foodie centre.”
“We expect people will come here for a drink before and after dinner at places like Quod, Gusto and The Ivy, and before they go to Sandy’s (the late night adjacent piano bar run by his son George),” Ted says.
The Oxford Wine Cellar will do food from a simple offering of meat and cheese (from Jericho Cheese Company) platters, salads and pizzas. And if you don’t like the 200 bottles of wine on hand, Oxford Wine Cellar is serving beer from the likes of Oxford’s Tap Social.
And with Oxford Wine Cafe in Jericho already setting a precedent, and four Oxford Wine Company shops to his bow, wine it seems is back in a big way!
So is Ted excited? “Yes I think we’re ready. We know what we are doing, so pop in for an early evening drink, lunch or make a night of it. It’s going to be fun.”
The Oxford Wine Cellar will be open every day of the week from Wednesday October 4. https://oxfordwinecellar.co.uk