What do you get when you mix a passion for wine, serendipitous timing and three Fondrenites together? Fondren Cellars in the Woodland Hills Shopping Center, and its long-awaited opening today at 10am. The new wine and spirits shop in the former Per Design location is the product of lunch meetings of puzzle enthusiasts. Or at least pro-Jacks with a Fondren lean. Scott Overby and Joseph Johnson are managing partners and Overby says it’s the ‘missing piece’ he feels the neighborhood has been needing. “We kept hearing over and over ‘Fondren needs a wine store’, he says, “and so, here we are.” It’s the kind of place Overby describes as comfortable where patrons can browse, not feel pressured, and get great advice on basics or top shelf varieties.

And to assist with that wine knowledge is 26 year old Elliott Haller. Don’t let his age fool you: Haller is a wine industry veteran. The Fondren resident and manager of Fondren Cellars attended school in Canada where wine classes were part of his curriculum. He’s been a wine buyer, a consultant for restaurants, a host of private parties, and the go-to guy for catering company menus and wine selections. “I don’t want to sell you what I like,” Haller says. “I want to help you find things you like and other wines to explore.” Part of the service of Fondren Cellars will be the suggested pairings they can offer. “We want to make you ‘wine rock stars’ when you take that bottle into a dinner party,” Overby says. “We’ll have a code you can scan with your smart phone and instantly be emailed a wine profile so you are knowledgeable about your purchase.

Think that’s cool? Fondren Cellars plans to use point-of-sale terminals from their iPhones that scan your purchase without ever visiting a check out counter. And instead of paper receipts, an email can be sent as record of your purchase. With these tech savvy touches to the reclaimed boat house cedar used for the front counter, Fondren Cellars has a sleek vibe that connects old and new. And that’s what has Overby excited: taking a classic community like Fondren and bringing in elements that may be missing. “I’d love to see the Capri revitalized, too,” he says. “Bring a movie house back to Fondren. It’s nice staying in the the neighborhood for everything. And it draws people in, too.” It’s the same draw he hopes the new wine shop will be.

Overby says great wine is akin to a great novel. “Everyone has a favorite character.” And in keeping with a literary theme, he talks of the neat journey this whole experience has been. “We’ve only written an introduction to this book. There are many chapters to come.” Here’s a toast to a Fondren classic.

Hours are Monday - Thursday, 10am - 8pm, and Friday and Saturday, 10am - 10pm