Get Bubbly at Social Wine Bar
Brad Ball shares his take on Southern hospitality and wines
The restaurant and wine businesses are nothing new to Social Wine Bar owner Brad Ball. Ball, the son of the owners of Charleston's oldest "low country" restaurant Poogan's Porch, grew up washing dishes and making restaurant deliveries. Yet it was Ball's New York experience, plus his love for his hometown, that spawned the 5-year-old Social Wine Bar.
Ball went to New York City and worked at some of today's most known restaurants, which at the time were on the verge of breaking big: Momofuku and Jean Georges. But then, Ball said, he was "going the wrong way monetarily, very fast," and decided to move back to Charleston.
"Charleston was kind of on the verge of blowing up," said Ball. "There was definitely a new feeling, the energy of the town. Everything was just was starting to blossom; it was a great time to be in Charleston. It's still a great time to be in Charleston."
Ball went back to running Poogan's Porch as managing partner, but began to notice the lack of a good wine bar in the area. He had already remade Poogan Porch's wine list and discovered he had the right "wine memory" for a wine job. At the time, Ball said, he was debating whether to move to San Francisco to pursue his love of wine, or open a wine bar in his hometown. Ball became a Certified Master Sommelier, and took it upon himself to open Charleston's new wine hot spot.
"I think I knew that running a wine bar would be what would make me the happiest," he said. Ball said it was the right decision to stay in Charleston, even after the recession fallout in 2007. "Now, we're crushing numbers at both [Social Wine Bar and Poogan's Porch]," he said. "We just keep attracting better and better talent."
Ball, who is now working on his advanced sommelier degree, aims to keep Social Wine Bar stocked with artisanal wines produced by small wineries. The reason? "[Smaller wineries] produce better wines, simply put," he said. "The more in touch with the vine you are, the better the wine will be." It's his intent to support "sustainable winemaking," meaning organically produced wine that doesn't sacrifice the business.
Some wines to look out for on Social's wine list, per Ball's recommendation: the flights of rosé, the flights of German riesling, and the flights of bubbly, all popular at Social. And if you can't get enough at Social, check out Ball's newest venture: Wine Awesomeness, an online retailer that sells many of the same bottles sold at Social.
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