by: Berkley Mason Staff Writer- The Observer
After owning a 550-seat restaurant in Toronto, working almost a decade for a wine magazine, and retiring from his lengthy career as an orthopedic surgeon, Jim Shortt is going back to his first love — wine.
“It started when I wanted to own the first wine bar in Toronto, but I had no money,” Shortt said. “Someone opened the first wine bar, and I thought they did it wrong. Then, a second one opened, and a third one, but each one did it wrong.”
Shortt is hoping to help his son, Scott Shortt, do it right with the opening of Fine Wine and Tastings on Main, which opens its doors March 31 on Lakewood Ranch Main Street.
The Shortts wanted to make sure their establishment was more than a wine bar and wine store. They wanted to provide people with a “meeting place” where they could discuss current events and their travels over a terrific glass of wine.
They provided a proper backdrop by hiring Teresa Tincher of Classic Design Group of North Carolina to do the decor with help from Jim’s wife, Leslie.
The Shortts gave a lot of thought to every aspect of their new business, even their hours.
“There is a rationale for opening at 11 a.m.,” Jim Shortt said. “Winston Churchill had a glass of champagne every day of his life at 11 o’clock.”
Scott Shortt, who is the owner, quit his job at the Sarasota Yacht Club to take on the new business.
He said, with a laugh, that he knows more about wine than yachts, and he believes his interest in wine goes back to all of the traveling he did growing up. Living in a “wine-friendly” home didn’t hurt.
“Growing up in the household that I did, yes, I know about wine,” Scott Shortt said. “A lot of our family vacations were centered around wine regions, that sort of thing. We would go to Europe and stop by different wineries. I have a good friend of mine whose family owns a vineyard in France, so we get to go over and visit them, so I definitely grew up around it.”
The wine bar demonstrates a rustic, industrial feel with an Edison bulb chandelier hanging in the middle of the store, open ductwork lining the ceilings, old wine barrels scattered around and large sliding barn doors in the back.
More than 400 wines will be sold in the store, bought from regions all across the globe. However, the Shortts have access to thousands of wines if their customers want to order something.
At the wine bar, customers may purchase a bottle of wine to take home, or can buy a bottle and pay a corkage fee to enjoy it right there. The wine bar will offer 30 wines by the glass with the types rotating to serve the customers’ desires.
“We can offer wines here for extraordinary value because we spent months searching them out,” Jim Shortt said. “We started tasting them months ago.”
Their wine bar also will be available to those hosting special events, such as birthdays or meetings.
The Shortts attended a First Friday on Main Street hoping to network with local clubs and organizations.
“There are a bunch of Lakewood Ranch clubs out here,” Scott Shortt said. “We thought we would meet up with all of these clubs, and if they ever want to have a meeting here or hold a special event, they can.”
Fine Wine and Tastings on Main will offer monthly wine tastings.
“Our monthly tastings aren’t just going to be us standing here, pouring you wine,” Scott Shortt said. “We will have four to five of our reps from the companies we get our wine from, and they will each be pouring five or six wines each from their companies. Basically you’d be coming in and trying up to 30 different wines.”
Education will be part of their business.
“It will be a chance to learn more about wine,” Scott Shortt said. “There’s a lot of people that are around 26 who are new to wine — they don’t know anything about it but they kind of like it, and don’t know what they like about it. That’s where the introductory part comes in. But then there are people who have a lot of wine knowledge and want to learn more. It appeals to everyone, from young professionals all the way through to people who are retired.”
The Shortts have many wine-related stories themselves, and Jim Shortt said he can talk about wine all day.
His favorite part about wine might be the extensive history behind wine culture and how it has grown. Jim Shortt can barely wait to share his passion for wine.
“There is a lot of romance to wine,” Jim Shortt said. “Most of the wine in here has a story, and some of them have great stories.”