It’s one of those kick yourself ideas. A pre-loved bookshop that’s also a wine bar, full of cozy ambiance, dog-eared paperbacks and top-notch plonk. Why didn’t we think of this before? Wine and reading already go bloody well together; it was only a matter of time until some genius worked out how to monetize the combo.
For Willows & Wine, that genius was owner Alice Wheeler. Lover of books, drinker of wine, envy of all.
You’ll find Willows tucked inside a heritage shopfront on Victoria St, a low-lit moody little space, all dark timber and cracked, peeling tile work. The interior decorating is a light touch, which only draws attention to the giant wall of books opposite the bar. Willows works on a pretty Laissez-faire system: if you see a book and like it, just open up and have a read. There’s also a selection of board games to keep the punters happy (think Jenga, Connect Four and a couple of chess sets).
As you’d expect, the wine list is an All Star lineup. Alice has a passion for global adventure, and you’ll spot a few well travelled bottles from Germany and Italy, along with boutique local labels. They’ve even started doing whisky and mulled wine for the winter months. (Coziness factor rising...) Food-wise, you’ve got a few basic grazing options, including a sweet antipasto board (sliced with the grater from The Artisan’s Bottega next door), plus cheeses and charcuterie. If you want to settle in for a longer reading sesh, you’re welcome to order-in via your lazy-food-app of choice.
Yep, this place has all the makings of a Melbourne classic. Read it and weep.