“Wine saved my marriage,” joked Lakendra Walker, co-owner of the Cork & Crate wine bar, which quietly opened on Central Avenue in Plaza Midwood last fall. “We should start selling shirts that say that.”
Lakendra owns the shop with her husband, Christopher Walker. The pair, who have been married 11 years, are also in business together at his law office, where he’s an attorney and she’s a paralegal. After working long days together, they found that going to tastings or sharing a bottle of nice wine was a good way to unwind together after work.
What started as a hobby turned into a passion, with the couple visiting wine bars around the country and ultimately deciding they wanted to open their own.
“We built this place to create something we felt was missing in Charlotte,” Lakendra said. “We want this to feel like an extension of your living room.”
The cozy shop is tucked into the unassuming block between McDonald’s and Krazy Fish on Central Avenue, which makes its chic modern interior a happy surprise. It’s a narrow space with a geometric grass wall on one side and bottles of wine lining the other. But perhaps its most interesting feature is its elegant private tasting room where 12 arm chairs line a long communal wooden table.
It’s here that the Walkers host $10 wine tastings featuring complimentary charcuterie and cheese alongside sips of fine wines on two Fridays a month. Forget any reservations you might have about wine being intimidating, everything at Cork & Crate is designed to make the experience not just approachable, but engaging and enjoyable. Christopher leads the tastings, openly admitting that he’s not a sommelier—just someone who loves wine and has a palate that can choose a good one.
The wines in the shop range from $15 to $300, and you can grab one to go or open them up at the table.
“We only have one problem with our tasting room,” Lakendra joked. “After a few glasses of wine and people meeting their neighbors around the table, no one is ever ready to leave.”
Visit Cork & Crate’s Facebook page for more information. And look for the shop’s Valentine’s Day Crates, which will start at $45 and feature wine, chocolate and flowers.
Photos: CharlotteFive Staff, Cork & Crate