A wine bar opened by three close friends has established itself as the place to go for “unusual” and “fascinating” wines that are imported directly.

Summertown Wine Bar at 267 Banbury Road opened its doors in March, finding a home gracefully among the people of Oxford with an offering of live music nights, continental charcuterie and rare wines.

General manager Emily Robotham, who has lived in Oxford for 12 years, said: “Things are going really well. We’ve established ourselves nicely with regular live music nights which people seem to love, and we’re really excited to be sharing some fascinating wines from small producers.

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“It’s gone down really well with Summertown folk and people coming from further afield.”

The aperitif artist owns the venue with her two friends, Michael and Graeme, who own and run Grape Minds, a wine shop around the corner from Summertown Wine Bar.

Oxford Mail: Summertown Wine Bar. Image: Emily RobothamSummertown Wine Bar. Image: Emily Robotham (Image: Emily Robotham)

Ms Robotham added: “We met each other when we worked at Majestic over the road, then we all went down different paths.

“Michael and Graeme went to open Grape Minds and went into hospitality, running the cellars at Christchurch College.

“We’ve all been selling wine in Oxford for pretty much our whole careers, and the guys run an amazing retail operation where they import lots of their own wines, which is unusual for a small store.

“They told me it was frustrating that they couldn’t just open wines and share them with people on the spot, so we decided to open the bar. Now the bar shares lots of wines with the shop.”

Ms Robotham said her favourite part of the job is the bar’s ‘top class by the glass’ offering at the weekend, whereby customers can come and enjoy a glass of fine, unusual wine.

She added: “One of our bestsellers was a natural wine from a region called Gaujac, in France, the producers are just a small husband and wife team; people hadn’t even heard of the region.”

Ms Robotham went on to say that she’d managed to find an “amazing team of wonderful young people who have exceptional wine knowledge.”

Adding: “Our team don’t get given a script, we just encourage them to talk about the wines they like, which I think customers enjoy because it gives them a variety of opinions.”

When asked why she thinks the bar has been doing so well, Ms Robotham said: “It’s a chance to get a really nice glass of wine from a small but knowledgeable team of wine lovers in north Oxford.

“We also have a large space that caters well to parties and business meetings.”

The bar has now launched ‘aperitivo hour’, where between 4pm and 6pm customers get a free tarte flambee with every bottle of wine purchased.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1