Reserva Wine Bar serves wines inspired by history in Beacon
Pictures of Tanner Townsend
Occupying the former Chill Wine Bar space on Main Street, Reserva offers unique varietals, Brazilian cuisine and live music on weekends.
After opening its doors in December 2021, Reserva Wine Bar serves eclectic wines by the glass, whips up brilliant Brazilian bites, and hosts live music every Friday and Saturday.
Partners Tanner Townsend and chef Pedro Sousa own the Beacon spot. Townsend, owner of fan-favorite Poughkeepsie java joint The Crafted Kup, moved to the Hudson Valley in 2006. He came to study baking and pastry at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, the same institution where Sousa studied culinary arts. After opening a cafe called Cafeteria in New Paltz and a bakery in Beacon called Crumb, he purchased the Raymond Ave location for The Crafted Kup.
Meanwhile, Sousa worked for many years as a private chef in the Hamptons.
“I used to work as a private chef, but I wanted to learn more and improve my skills. So I moved to Hyde Park and attended [the CIA].I gained so much knowledge and created so many great relationships,” Sousa recalls. “Then I met Tanner and we started our company.”
At HV Food Photography, the couple captures the beauty of local cuisine and small businesses. They took jaw-dropping photos of Hudson Valley hotspots like Slate Point Meadery, Hudson Taco, FitSocial and Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn. Above all, in collaborating on this project, Townsend and Sousa were looking for another double business.
When the owners of Chill Wine Bar announced their closure in April 2021, the perfect opportunity arose.
“We have been friends with Jim [Svetz] and patrick [McKenna] for a while… I joked with them years ago, “Well, if you ever want to sell Chill, let me know.” And, so, they texted,” Townsend says. In fact, Reserva is the second business Townsend has bought from them – the New Paltz cafeteria was once a Muddy Cup location.
For the first time in 14 years, Beacon was without a wine bar. Townsend and Sousa, two wine enthusiasts with extensive travel, were in a perfect place to launch Reserva.
“It came at a very good time. And after many discussions and a few glasses of wine ourselves, we made up our minds,” he explains.
Townsend aspired to bring something to the region – a certain aesthetic, a feel and a certain quality of wine – that it did not yet have. Of course, the Hudson Valley has impressive farm-to-bottle vineyards and cozy wine bars. However, he and Sousa recognized an opportunity to offer different styles of wine not typically found in the Hudson Valley.
So they set to work to organize the atmosphere. Townsend and Sousa searched for standout pieces, from Prohibition-era light fixtures to mid-century modern furniture. Their main goal was to create a comfortable space with a touch of elegance and sophistication, without an ounce of arrogance. In fact, they could fill a wall with the beautiful antique mirrors they found, and they did. A multitude of glass relics stand behind a breathtaking white quartz bar, while bronze features pop against exposed brickwork and striking blue walls.
“We wanted people to feel like they could come in, sit down and stay, go out and listen to music while enjoying their wine without feeling like they were going to be rushed,” says Townsend. “Whether you’re dressed for the night or just wearing a hoodie, everyone is welcome here.”
Following in Chill’s footsteps, the owners of Reserva are integrating live music into the very foundation of the wine bar. They built a stage, allowing patrons to view the musicians from anywhere in the space (as well as through the street window). Every Friday and Saturday night, artists from the Hudson Valley, New York City and beyond perform original singer-songwriter material, bossa nova and samba, and everything in between.
Sousa connected with other artists from Brazil. Much of his family lives in Rio, and photos Townsend took of the destination adorn the walls of Reserva. In fact, stunning shots from the duo’s travels around the world fill the room. In addition to Rio, photography covers trips to France (from wine country to Paris) and the Philippines, as well as Poughkeepsie. Although Townsend initially resisted showing off his work, it gave the couple another way to unify the room’s eclectic decor.
Likewise, Sousa pays homage to its Brazilian heritage through the small bites menu and extensive wine list. For example, he revisits Brazilian street food with Pа̃o de queijo sliders. He makes them with traditional cheese bread, and because they contain yuca flour, they’re naturally gluten-free. An order comes in three varieties: smoked salmon with ricotta and chives; a grilled cheese with halloumi and guava compote; and a burrata, prosciutto and moscato, a grape skin reduction that’s “the child of port and balsamic vinegar,” according to Sousa.
On the other hand, Sousa highlights local ingredients through cheese and charcuterie boards. The bar offers a wonderful truffle cheese from a producer in Troy, local Dutch prosciutto and camembert from Croton Farms in Brewster. Similarly, the Hudson Valley Crudités Platter pairs hyper-local produce with internationally-inspired dips. Eggplant caponata, baked Brie with figs and walnuts, and house-pickled herbed walnuts and olives round out Reserva’s edible offerings.
Of course, the wine list is at the heart of the experience at Reserva. Great wines often come with great stories, and those who run great wine bars should be great storytellers themselves. Townsend and Sousa selected wines from underrepresented winemakers and wine regions.
“Brazil is so new to the world of wine. During our travels, wWe had the opportunity to taste some of their sparkling wines and there we fell in love with them for their quality,” says Sousa. “WWe have female producers, we have wines from South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Israel… I think [our list] really covers the whole world.
Townsend adds:It’s always interesting if you feel you can connect with who made what you drink.
Working with small distributors and wine representatives, Reserva seeks interesting wines that are “story driven”. For example, one of his Cabernet Sauvignons, Kitá, comes from the world’s first Native American winemaker.
Certainly, geography is not the only factor when considering wines. Interesting and uncommon grape varieties attract Townsend and Sousa. 4 Kilos Motor América is made from 100% Callet, a native grape variety from Mallorca, Spain. This captivating red ages briefly in clay amphoras and drinks somewhere between pinot noir and cab. Similarly, Filipa Pato’s Bairrada Dinamica Tinto contains 100% Portuguese baga.
“You can only find it in the Bairrada region. It’s really unique, and it surprises a lot of people with the flavor,” says Sousa. “Our Riesling is truly different from typical Australian Rieslings. A producer in South Africa makes it. It’s very, very dry, and it’s really nice to see the reactions on people’s faces when they try it.
Beyond the single varietals, several blends feature new combinations and other styles rarely seen in the Hudson Valley. A Spanish Rioja Crianza combines Tempranillo, Carignan and Grenache, while an Italian red from Puglia combines Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. The champagne is marked by incredibly soft bubbles and delicious notes of apricot. In addition, the sparkling Brazilian rosé Pinot Noir is particularly tasty.
Reserva’s list will change frequently, as the seasons change and Townsend and Sousa discover exciting new wines. During the winter months, bolder reds dominate. On the contrary, spring and summer bring lighter reds and a plethora of whites and rosés. Ultimately, Sousa is looking to add more dessert wines to accompany sweet dishes and high-end treats.
Above all, Reserva strives to make fun, delicious and unique wines accessible to everyone who walks through the door. Servers receive extensive training on the wine list and share fascinating details about the process. In fact, when it’s time to pay the bill, the checks arrive on tables inside second-hand books Townsend has discovered in antiquities, which fits more into this concept of storytelling. The team likes to find the right romance to match the energy of a particular holiday. From literary classics to quirky science fiction, these volumes add to the memorable experience at Reserva.
“We are far from being wine experts. But we like good quality wine, we like good food, and we like a combination of the two. It’s a passion we’ve always had, [since] we travel based on the restaurants we go to,” says Townsend. “Having that kind of passion for foodies translates into our list. These wines are unique, they taste great and they have a story.
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