Some places seem to lend themselves to wine. In recent years, there’s been a growing number of wine bars cropping up in New York, and there are plenty to be found in Northern California and most major U.S. cities. But it came as a surprise to me while strolling through Lenox, Massachusetts on a hunt for coffee and pastries, that wine is proliferating in this small town of 5,000, and perhaps others like it.
As I made my way past the Patisserie Lenox toward the food market, I couldn’t help but notice a window with a sign announcing art and wine. The Wit Gallery of Art and Wine features decorative and fine art in all media from over 30 artists. Opened by Lynda Strauch in the 1998, the art at the Wit covers all types of fine art, from photography and painting to sculpture and mixed media. To add to its eclectic mix of work, the gallery recently added an array of artisanal wines from small, family owned, small production vineyards.
I peeked in the window, looking past the paintings and sculptures—a common sight along Church Street with its numerous galleries–and there it was, the wine counter. Bottles of wine were strewn on top, and I thought how lovely it must be to peruse the art while sipping a glass of pinot noir. (Note to self: come back when it’s open.)
As I rounded the corner, I noticed The Bookstore, Lenox’s local bookshop located on Housatonic Street. It, too, was closed as it was Sunday, but I pressed my nose against the glass and spotted a long wooden bar along a sidewall. The Bookstore now houses the Get Lit wine bar, and I could see the bottles of red and white on the wooden bar, facing the rows and shelves stocked with books. Another great combination, I thought, and a place where I’d love to spend hours sipping and reading.
Matthew Tannenbaum has been selling books (new and used) here for the past 34 years, and decided to sell wines by the glass to add some income and a different spin on a precious, dwindling commodity–the independent bookstore. The notion, he explained to the Rural Intelligence newsletter, came after taking a trip to Europe. “I only got the idea when I went to visit an old friend in Prague. Every night, we would go to the symphony or a jazz club, and afterwards we would go to the same cafe. I loved going to this cafe, and I thought this is what I should have at home. It’s not separate from the bookstore—it’s an extension of the bookstore.”
Lenox, and many parts of the Berkshires, are devoted to sharing culture with locals and visitors alike. Art, music, theater and literature—and sometimes, a glass of wine too.