By Raphael Beretta, with additional reporting by Megan Wilson
Beacon has its fair share of watering holes (think Wonderbar, Melzingah Tap House, The Vinyl Room) but has been lacking a wine-focused spot for nearly a year—until now. Opened last December by chef Pedro Sousa and Tanner Townsend, the uber-cool Reserva Wine Bar offers up unique wines, Brazilian-American fusion small plates, and live entertainment.
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 coffee shop 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 was working before 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 made so many beautiful connections,” 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’ve snapped breathtaking shots of Hudson Valley hotspots like Slate Point Meadery, Hudson Taco, FitSocial, and Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn. Above all, collaborating on this project had Townsend and Sousa looking for another dual venture.
When the owners of Chill Wine Bar announced their closure in April 2021, the perfect opportunity presented itself.
“We’ve 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 marks the second business Townsend bought from them—Cafeteria in New Paltz 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 travels, were in a perfect spot to launch Reserva.
“It came up at a really great time. And after a lot of discussion, and a few glasses of wine ourselves, we decided on it,” he explains.
Townsend aspired to bring something to the region—a certain aesthetic, a feel, and a certain quality of wine—that it didn’t yet have. Of course, the Hudson Valley boasts impressive farm-to-bottle wineries and cozy wine bars. However, he and Sousa recognized a chance to offer different styles of wine not typically found in the Hudson Valley.
So, they got to work on curating the atmosphere. Townsend and Sousa searched for standout pieces, from Prohibition-era fixtures to mid-century modern furnishings. Their primary objective was to create a comfortable space with a touch of elegance and sophistication—without an ounce of snootiness. In fact, they could fill a wall with the beautiful antique mirrors they found—and they did. A multitude of looking glass relics stand behind a breathtaking white quartz bar, while bronze elements pop against exposed brick and striking blue walls.
“We wanted people to feel like they could come in, sit and stay, hang out, and listen to music while enjoying their wine without feeling like they were going to be rushed out,” Townsend explains. “Whether you’re dressed up for the night or just wearing a hoodie, everybody’s welcome here.”
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Following in the footsteps of Chill, the owners of Reserva integrate live music into the wine bar’s very foundation. They built a stage, allowing patrons to see the musicians from anywhere in the space (as well as through the window from the street). Every Friday and Saturday evening, acts 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 captured of the destination grace Reserva’s walls. In fact, stunning shots of the duo’s travels across the globe fill the room. In addition to Rio, the photography covers trips to France (from wine country to Paris) and the Philippines, as well as Poughkeepsie. Though Townsend initially resisted showcasing his work, it gave the pair another way to unify the room’s eclectic décor.
Similarly, Sousa pays tribute to his Brazilian heritage through the small bites menu and the expansive wine list. For instance, he puts a spin on Brazilian street food with the Pа̃o de queijo sliders. He makes them with traditional cheese bread and, because they feature yuca flour, they are naturally gluten-free. An order comes with 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 wine and balsamic vinegar,” according to Sousa.
On the other hand, Sousa highlights local ingredients through cheese and charcuterie boards. The bar has featured a gorgeous truffle cheese from a producer in Troy, a local Dutch prosciutto, and a camembert from Croton Farms in Brewster. Similarly, the Hudson Valley crudité board pairs hyperlocal produce with internationally-inspired dips. Eggplant caponata, a baked brie with fig and walnuts, and house-marinated herb nuts and olives round out Reserva’s edible offerings.
Of course, the wine list is central to the experience at Reserva. Great wines often come with great stories, and those that run great wine bars should be great storytellers themselves. Townsend and Sousa selected wines from underrepresented winemakers and winemaking regions.
“Brazil is so new in the wine world. On our trips, we had an opportunity to taste some of their sparkling wines, and there we fell in love with them because of the quality,” Sousa says. “We have female producers, we have wines from South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Israel…I think [our list] really spans all over the world.”
Townsend adds, “It’s always interesting if you you feel like you can connect to who made what you’re drinking.”
Working with small distributors and wine reps, Reserva searches for interesting “story-driven” wines. For example, one of its Cabernet Sauvignons, the Kitá, comes from the first female Native American winemaker in the world.
Certainly, geography is not the only factor when considering wines. Interesting and uncommon varietals attract Townsend and Sousa. The 4 Kilos Motor América features 100-percent Callet, an indigenous varietal from Mallorca, Spain. This captivating red briefly ages in clay amphorae, and drinks somewhere between a Pinot Noir and a Cab. Similarly, Filipa Pato’s Bairrada Dinamica Tinto contains 100-percent Portuguese Baga.
“You can only find it in the Bairrada region. It’s really unique, and it’s surprised a lot of people with the flavor,” Sousa says. “Our Riesling is really different from typical Australian Rieslings. A female producer from 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 novel combinations and other scarcely seen styles in the Hudson Valley. A Spanish Rioja Crianza pairs Tempranillo, Carignan, and Grenache, while an Italian red from Puglia blends Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. The champagne is marked by unbelievably soft bubbles and delightful apricot notes. Plus, the Brazilian sparkling Pinot Noir rosé is especially tasty.
The list at Reserva will change frequently, as seasons change and Townsend and Sousa discover new, interesting wines. During the winter months, bolder reds dominate. Contrarily, spring and summer bring lighter-bodied reds and a plethora of whites and rosés. Down the line, Sousa looks to add more dessert wines to pair with sweet dishes and upscale treats.
Above all, Reserva strives to make fun, delicious, one-of-a-kind wines accessible to anyone who walks through the door. Servers get an in-depth education on the wine list, and share fascinating details about the process. In fact, when it’s time to pay the bill, checks arrive at tables inside of used books Townsend discovered while antiquing, further tying into this concept of storytelling. The team enjoys finding the right novel to match the energy of a particular party. From literary classics to off-the-wall sci-fi, these volumes add to the memorable experience at Reserva.
“We are are far from wine experts. But we love good quality wine, we love good food, and we love the pairing of those two. It’s a passion that we’ve always had, [since] we travel based on what restaurants we’re going to,” Townsend says. “Having that sort of foodie passion translates to our list. These wines are unique, they taste great, and they have a story.”
(in no particular order)
2020 Estate Ava Rosé, Nostrano Vineyards, Milton ($22)
Crisp, fresh, and mineral forward. Perfect for any day—summer or not!
Rosé Brut Sparkling, Cave Amadeu, Serra Gaúcha, Brazil ($23)
Brioche nose, soft silky bubbles, and subtle dried apricot on the finish. An amazing surprise from a surprising region.
Rioja Crianza, Marques de Tomares, Spain ($17)
Dark cherry, sweet tobacco, silky tannins. An incredible glass by itself or paired with a robust cheese or charcuterie.
Baco Noir (Estate), Benmarl Winery, Marlboro ($35)
Cherry and thyme, bold and delicious—a great one!
Moscofilero, Skoura, Peloponnesse, Greece ($16)
Tropical fruit on the nose but then surprises you with orange pith and subtle white pepper. You’ll really enjoy the crisp and clean finish.