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On Krista Lark Slater’s Instagram page, she describes herself as a “low-key sommelier.” It’s an understatement contemplating Lark has been finding out and dealing with wine for years now.
In 2018, Lark and her husband, Jerry Slater, opened The Expat in 5 Factors. Since then, the pair have made their mark as entrepreneurs and restaurateurs. Lark introduced a brand new endeavor earlier this yr — a wine store and tasting house on Prince Avenue. The Lark is about to open later this fall.
The Purple & Black spoke with Krista Lark Slater, native sommelier, illustrator and co-owner of The Expat, about her personal journey, the Georgia wine scene and what to anticipate from this new house.
Purple & Black: For individuals who do not know, what does a sommelier do?
Krista Lark Slater: Previously, and sort of historically, a sommelier is an individual who works in a restaurant because the wine knowledgeable … wine specialist is what I favor. It is any person who’s simply there to information you thru the wine picks to seek out the very best pairing on your meal and which can swimsuit you. They often are those who choose the wines as nicely. I feel in a extra fashionable context, a sommelier will get somewhat looser within the sense that it turns into extra of a time period about any person who’s only a specialist in wine and guiding clients by wine.
R&B: Inform me how you bought to the place you are actually.
KLS: I bought a level in artwork historical past, and was initially a visible artist, working in museum and academic applications. I truly spent a superb little bit of time in Europe, and in Germany is the place I first found wine as a part of a semester in cultural research there and fell in love with it. I fell in love with the whole lot about it in a way that it was very similar to artwork in a approach, for a neighborhood, or a society of individuals to precise themselves, however as an alternative of utilizing paint they’re utilizing grapes … I moved to California to go to a culinary college that had a particular program in skilled wine research … I labored on the market for some time and I bought my sommelier certification on the market, after which finally made my strategy to Georgia for household causes. I moved to Atlanta in 2008 and labored in each part of wine that had nothing to do with eating places … [Slater and I] ran a restaurant in Atlanta that was open for about six years. After which we made our strategy to Athens. Simply out of a need for a change of atmosphere, a change of life-style.
R&B: When did you resolve that opening a wine store is what you actually wished to do?
KLS: It has been sort of a profession lengthy dream of mine to have a wine store that additionally has a food and drinks element, sort of a social, retail house for individuals to collect, loosen up and luxuriate in. To be taught sort of by osmosis slightly than by formal courses. And, additionally go away with just a few good bottles to take dwelling … I like working with my husband and I like doing eating places. However we have talked about this. I feel it is a factor — as entrepreneurs, we’re at all times speaking about fantastic concepts that excite us. We joke that we stroll round with a Rolodex of concepts. We very a lot imagine as enterprise folks that the house is crucially vital to the enterprise. You may’t simply say I wish to do that enterprise after which shove it right into a field … We noticed [Janet Geddis’] posting and had been very unhappy about [Avid Bookshop] leaving, however then I noticed the house and was like, that’d be good.
R&B: Is that this going to be your individual enterprise or will you continue to be in a partnership together with your husband, Jerry Slater?
KLS: It is going to be 80% of my consideration and time going there. I view my husband’s enter, as a businessman, as a artistic individual … It’s actually essential to me. However that is one thing the place his time goes to be devoted principally to The Expat. What he does there may be so essential regarding the hospitality facet of issues, and the imaginative and prescient of that house. However, sure, we simply sort of at all times are like, our personal perpetual consultants on each other’s tasks. I imply, The Expat is ours, however I’ve at all times felt that he is sort of a driving power of that as a result of he has a lot extra expertise on the meals and operation facet of eating places whereas I’ve at all times been predominantly a beverage facet of issues.
R&B: What has it been like placing all of this collectively throughout the pandemic? I think about it has its challenges.
KLS: It has its challenges … We signed the lease on The Lark again in January, I wish to say, so this was a mission that we began earlier than any of us knew what was going to occur actually … After which in March, the whole lot simply sort of bought turned the wrong way up for us. We needed to sort of go into full ‘Save The Expat’ mode, in order that was laborious. I’ll say, we nonetheless felt assured going ahead with The Lark. We knew that as a result of it had these a number of features to the enterprise mannequin, that it was a retail heavy enterprise, that it may survive opening throughout this pandemic … We had hoped for a gap in late summer season and now we’re taking a look at once more hopefully or early fall.
R&B: What’s your imaginative and prescient for this new house?
KLS: I like taking individuals from a spot the place they really feel scared to voice an opinion about wine to the place they’re simply having fun with it … Our complete level as individuals who personal eating places and bars, we’re within the enterprise of constructing individuals blissful … So, my imaginative and prescient is a wine store the place individuals can sit, style wines, eat a small chew of meals, nevertheless it’s a spot the place they really feel snug and so they’re relaxed and there is hospitality as a component … What we wish individuals to do is decelerate, loosen up of their day and benefit from the house, and perhaps discover one thing new that excites them. Or perhaps simply, you realize, perhaps they simply come and discuss to their pals for a short while and do some tasting. So that is what I would like. My imaginative and prescient is that this house is exclusive within the realm of wine that’s not pedantic however is heavy with hospitality and casual and relaxed … You realize, I do not wish to impress individuals with how a lot I find out about wine. I would like them to be proud of how a lot they’ve discovered about wine.
R&B: Does Georgia have any native wines? And how much wine can we anticipate to strive at The Lark?
KLS: We have now a superb diurnal shift up in North Georgia and particularly in greater elevations, it will get cooler sufficient at evening and heat sufficient and sunny sufficient throughout the day to have some potential to make some wine. I feel the wineries which might be doing it greatest are those which might be exploring some grapes that aren’t within the conventional canon, like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir don’t do nicely right here, we simply do not have the proper of local weather … I feel it has potential to do nice issues, it is simply not there but. However there are some nice ones we have labored with … So wines at The Lark, it may be a small collection of retail. I plan on carrying about 200 totally different bottles … Our objective is to maintain it as a set of each traditional and new … Only a range that we’re continually sort of rotating by, and which have a worth level selection … There’s a little bit of this, like, sort of elitism with wine, like that wine is just for the rich, however there’s actually good shit in all classes.
This Q&A has been edited for size and readability.
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