Outside of central Boston, beyond the new cocktailians and craft beer bars in Cambridge, the Red Line ends at Davis Square, home of Tufts University. In the past year, several cocktail saloons and organic wine bars have popped up here, including Spoke Wine Bar. As the name suggests, Spoke offers bespoke small plates, from Chef John DaSilva, in a casual speakeasy setting with an extensive organic wine list, handpicked from small wineries by the owner, Felisha Foster. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with Foster about her impressive career, love of Boston, and of course, organic wine.
Falling into wine (her own words) fifteen years ago Foster has worked on the retail side, as a distributor and an importer, and most recently spent five years working as a buyer at Dave’s Fresh Pasta, a local favorite. At Dave’s she earned a reputation for building the Davis Square wine palate by choosing wines from small European wineries, but recently discovered that the retail side was no longer for her. After an epiphany on a motorcycle trip out west, Foster decided she was ready for something else.
“The space popped up right next to Dave’s, so it just kind of made sense because I knew the community already had a built-in clientele,” said Foster. “I really wanted to take the plunge.” In fall of 2012, Spoke opened its doors, with Foster stationed at her spot at the front door, warmly greeting patrons into the dimly lit cozy space. The wine list, which rotates frequently, features wines listed in order from “Light to Full-Bodied,” with knowledgeable sommeliers at the ready. During my visit, I tried a Filipa Pato 2012 Chenin Blanc from Portugal. While not certified organic, the Pato is like many of the wines Foster chooses, practicing organic production, but feel they are too small to make the leap to get certified.
“I’m interested in portfolios and the problem with the whole organic thing is that a lot of the people that I deal with are not going to get certified,” Foster said, “They’re like, ‘My family’s been doing this for eight generations, why would we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a stamp on the back of our label for something that we’ve been doing forever?’”
She is drawn to these smaller importers and portfolios less by the fact that they are organic, but for the quality their smaller production yields. “I’m drawn to the way those wines taste because they have more of a sense of place – they don’t taste commercial,” she said.
Foster, who works with distributors like Dressner and Kermit Lynch, handle many wines including some that are biodynamic and sulfite-free. Her regular clientele have learned to trust her opinion and relationship with the wines over the little green label. Like the producers Foster works with, she maintains a close relationship in the Davis community – evident by her proximity to the bar – she lives four minutes away. And the feeling is mutual, “I just love the area and the community – we’ve been very well-received.”
Spoke is located in Somerville, MA at 89 Holland St.