Authentic Proprietors and Small City Advantages with Nelson Marsh

Nelson Marsh likens his bar’s interior to “your crazy rich aunt’s living room.” More notable than the tufted velvet sofas and statement wallpaper, though, is the wine list, which hovers near a staggering 450 options. Except there isn’t a list—bartenders lead guests to that Alsatian Gewürztraminer or Piemonte Dolcetto by asking what they like to drink and pouring off sips along the way. Marsh fell in love with wine while studying in Italy, and he aims to bring the same warmth and enthusiasm he found among winemakers there to his tiny hometown—and chip away at wine’s lingering elitist reputation in the States. “The person behind the bar’s whole reason for being there is to democratize wine,” he says, adding, “We’ll treat you like a damn person when you walk through the door.”

Insights & Inspirations

  • So what she ended up with is this situation where being smaller actually becomes an advantage – Nelson Marsh
  • So, roundabout and circle and back to it, it is an advantage sometimes to work in a place where you’re building a culture. – Nelson Marsh
  • Open yourself up to the diversity of it. But then I would also say be leery of the big brand wine rating culture. I mean, it’s really to take something that someone’s put their whole life into that’s so complex and there’s so much diversity and stick a two-digit number on it, and say, “Oh, we’re only going to represent ones they have national representation.” – Nelson Marsh
  • First, the best thing I can say is if you are actually looking for them, don’t shop at a Kroger, don’t shop at a Publix, don’t shop at a world market. They’re working off corporate lists. – Nelson Marsh
  • Second, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The person running that list knows more than almost anyone else about those wines. – Nelson Marsh
  • There’s this whole culture of young people that have gotten together and said, “Hey, we don’t want to just do the work. If we’re going to do this, if we’re going to expose ourselves, we want to do something genuinely excellent, and we want to do something worth doing.” – Nelson Marsh
  • They (younger people) are looking to give the greatest gift they can give to your city, which is the next 50 or 60 years of their life. – Nelson Marsh
  • In most small towns, that’s the question, for the sake of what, why would I come back? – John Marsh
  • First, I think we need to acknowledge we’re hitting a generation gap. Baby boomers are a huge generation, and then millennials are a huge generation, and in the middle is not.  – Nelson Marsh
  • We don’t grow tired of hard work, we grow tired of meaningless work – John Marsh

Information & Links