Alegria Wine Bar

“So far as drinking is concerned, you have my hearty approval; for wine does of a truth moisten the soul and lull our grief’s to sleep”. Socrates

The proliferation of wine bars, wine shops, and wine focused business makes my heart sing. Each proprietor brings a unique view, inventory, and taste to those who worship Dionysus. My newest find in the wine bar portfolio is Alegria Wine and Ware in San Luis Obispo. Alegria means Joy in Spanish and elation is what I felt every minute in this new wine utopia.

The concept is small boutique style wines are offered from California, Spain and Portugal. All bottles under $25 and there is no corkage to drink it there. The wine is sold in flights, 3 ounce, 6 ounce pours or by the bottle. They also feature a “Just One Wine” selection that features a stand out for each winery. They offer exceptional tapas with a menu inspired by Russell Thomas of Two Cooks Catering. Owners John and David Hance come from varied and serial entrepreneurial backgrounds, to create this wine and tapas rapture.

The bright inspiring colors draw you in and make you feel like you just entered into a San Francisco hipster bar. The artwork is stirring and created by Hance’s 80-year-old mother. The custom wooden crates that are fire stamped displaying the wine and the miraculous local artisan plates; towels and other kitchen adornments beckoned you to stay, imbibe, and experience joy.

The idea started with a Website dedicated to wine made from old vine wines ( and turned into a place with distinctive discovery wines priced below $25, joyful gifts of artist created serving ware and a place to taste, meet and relax. Alegria was set to open by Dec 1, 2011, but carful planning and brilliant business strategies made the curtain to rise by Nov 30, 2011.

I first found them when I was searching for a bottle of wine to smuggle into the Palm Theater. I don’t do soda, I do wine, and most the time carry a “wine purse” that has an opener, Riedel glasses, and a bottle of alcohol fermented from grapes. This day I was caught without my bag, so I stumbled into Alegria. I bought a Di Arie 2008 Barbera, from the Sierra Foothills that paired perfectly with a breathtaking foreign film. We came back after and had tapas, starting with the sautéed mushroom bruschetta, that was earthly and wonderful.

Next, we had an amazing house made Flatbread. It was inspired and quite unique boasting such amazing ingredients like Allesina Finocchiona, fine cured specialty salami by Antonio Varia of Buona Tavola. This flatbread shined with fresh heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, and cheese. It had excellent dough and a symphony of fresh flavors.

Our next dish was Asian inspired slow cooked pork that was served on a square little wonton with ribbons of carrots and green onions. It was tasty enough to order another round.

David came out and shared with us his ideas and enthusiasm for this fantastic wine bistro. He is the cook and a fine one at that. His brother focuses on finding the wine surprises, while Jules is the genial hostess. Do yourself a favor and next time you catch a movie at the Palm, turn left down Chorro, grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with the the film and come discuss the movie after in this inspired place.

Alegria wine and ware is a retail store focusing on a limited selection of hard to find wines for tasting and purchase. Alegria is located at 942 Chorro Street (by the corner of Chorro at Palm) in San Luis Obispo. They are open Wednesday and Thursday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Call them at (805) 596-0200.