If life these days has got you seriously lusting after some wine, it may be time to tap into the east side’s newest vino spot.
Wanderlust Wine Company, the downtown wine bar dubbed the “largest self-pour wine-on-tap winery in the world,” is opening a second location at 702 Shady Ln., in the building that formerly housed another wine fave: Infinite Monkey Theorem, which was forced to close its Austin location during the pandemic.
The new Wanderlust, which owner Sammy Lam tells CultureMap is currently in its soft-launch phase and will open fully in mid-September, will breathe new life into the 13,000-square-foot East Austin historical building in the new Shady Lane development, while also honoring its past.
The 1939 building, which Lam notes is one of the tallest remaining wooden structures in the state, was in the process of getting a facelift from Infinite Monkey prior to that business pulling out of the space. Lam decided to bring his Wanderlust to the building in a fitting a nod to the Infinite Monkey folks, who he says were his mentors when he first began his wine career.
“We won the bid between us and a tech company that wanted to demolish and build a multilevel corporate office, allowing us to preserve this unique building in Austin that embodies the Austin culture and spirit, as it is completely filled with street art, unique décor, rustic aesthetics, and, of course, great wine,” Lam tells CultureMap.
While the new Wanderlust location will feature 16 wines on tap and a few specials during its soft launch, the bar will open in September with upwards of 80 wines on tap, most of which can be self-poured by patrons. Lam notes he aims to have Wanderlust be a pioneer of the new food, beverage, and entertainment district in East Austin known as Shady Lane.
“Hi-Sign Brewery and Holiday on Seventh — a cocktail lounge concept led by one of the owners of Kinda Tropical — are all set to be our neighbors in the next six to 12 months, too,” Lam says.
Wanderlust fans can expect the same type of eclectic and eye-popping colorful art found at the bar’s originally downtown location, and considering previous tenant Infinite Monkey featured some similar décor and flair, the Wanderlust style should develop easily in the space.
With the new location, Lam says Wanderlust is working to connect the Texas Hill Country to what he terms his east side location: the chill country. Wanderlust will partner with Hill Country wineries and even offer a transport service to haul Wanderlust wine lovers from the east side spot to its winery partners in the Hill Country.
It’s all part of Wanderlust’s impressive expansion plans, which, in the long run, include adding other locations throughout Texas. For a small, local, minority-owned business managing the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic — and opening a second location that has cost twice the expense — it’s a lofty goal, but one Lam hopes can shake up the Texas wine scene.
“This is our second location,” Lam says, “but it is our hope and goal to commercialize our wine product soon, as well as open other locations around the state. This, of course, will be in a few years from now, as we recover from COVID-19’s economic impacts, but we are already thinking for the future.”