George Miliotes conducted an official ground breaking ceremony for Wine Bar George, his Disney Springs wine bar, shop and restaurant that is aiming for a late 2017 opening.
Inside a walled off area behind Raglan Road, Miliotes, his wife, Leanne, and daughter, Anna, turned a couple of golden shovelfuls of dirt for a small contingent of Disney officials and media representatives. It was strictly ceremonial as it was clear that the ground and much of the concrete that had recently sat on top of it had already been broken.
Following the ceremony, an exuberant Miliotes led a contingent of media to a private area upstairs behind the Splitsville bowling center for a Champagne tasting and a presentation of what guests can expect when Wine Bar George opens.
The renderings of the elevation show that the place will be larger than you might imagine when you hear the term wine bar. It will be a two-story building with a restaurant area for casual wine dinners (and full kitchen); a grab-and-go food option, currently called The Basket, that Miliotes envisions as a place for guests to purchase picnic hampers; a retail shop for wine and accessories; and, of course, a wine bar — a central bar with seating, both drop in and by reservation, surrounding it.
This being Disney Springs, the operation has, as all the other food and beverage businesses must, a backstory about how it came to be. Miliotes came up with his own legend that explains the original structure was a farmhouse whose owner liked to make wine out back. He eventually turned the house into a winery, using the second floor for a gravity flow process for the grape juice. The winery became famous, he said, and so the restaurant was added to accommodate the fans. Still to be figured out, apparently, is how a winery could become famous making wines with grapes grown in Florida, but if anyone can explain that it would be Miliotes.
He plans to be very much an hands on and onsite owner. As a member of the elite group of wine experts who have achieved master sommelier level, Miliotes is passionate about sharing his knowledge about wine. Education will be an ever-available element in all areas of Wine Bar George. Even those picnic hampers will have specific wine pairings that go with the food inside and will include a slip of paper that explains why Miliotes chose that wine to go with that food.
He fully understands that some people may not want to be educated — “You can wad up the piece of paper and throw it away if you don’t want any learning,” he said, miming a toss over his left shoulder, “but if you’re into it, you get that little bit of extra learning and value with it.”
Anyone interested in wine would be wise to avail of Miliotes’s experience. He’s a largely a self-taught expert who started his own learning by sampling the wines at his father’s popular restaurant, Chris’s House of Beef, even before he reached legal age.
It was an especial treat to see Chris Miliotes at the ground breaking, looking quite proud. Now 88, he says that he mainly just cooks for friends and tends to his rose garden.
By the way, as part of the presentation Miliotes poured us three distinctly different sparkling wines, all from the Champagne region: Gimonnet Brut, Premier Cru-Cuis, made with chardonnay; Geoffrey Brut, Premier Cru-Rosé de Saignée, from pino noir; and Moussé, Noir Réserve, made with meunier. He led us through the process of tasting the wine like an expert and showed how to appreciate the distinct characteristics of each wine.
It wasn’t just a chance to taste some excellent wine, it was also an opportunity to see what awaits guests when Wine Bar George opens.
Miliotes says that he hopes to be open in less than a year. Wouldn’t it be ideal to have it open during next year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival?