JJ’s Wine Bar: Jessie Myhre, Spencer and Jill Pittman

When Jessie Myhre heard about intelligent wine dispensing machines, she was fascinated. She passed on this enthusiasm to sister-in-law Jill Pittman and encouraged her to look into starting a business around the innovative idea.

The more both women looked into the models, the more intrigued they became. Most people would have put down the magazine articles and forgotten all about it, but Jill packed her bags and flew to Florida with her son, Spencer Pittman, to see these contraptions. And that’s when the three partners decided the concept was exactly what downtown Franklin needed.

“We think this is such a cool concept,” Jill says. “We knew people would like it too.”

The Winestation concept is simple: Patrons drop off a credit card at the front desk and receive a smart card in return, which they insert into the dispensing machine before selecting a pour size. The machine then dispenses the proper amount into the glass below.

The only step left is to swirl and sip. They can then drink as much and as many different kinds as they’d like, all on a tab system.

“It’s like a tasting every time you come in,” Jill says. “The machines allow people to learn about wines, too.” Information on the selections is displayed at each station.

This kind of wine bar is a relatively new idea – it’s the only one in Middle Tennessee – and JJ’s offers a unique experience for locals and tourists alike in the heart of downtown Franklin.

They maintained the intimate feel of the former private residence, filling the wine rooms with large leather chairs, overstuffed couches and tall cocktail tables. The open atmosphere allows customers to relax over a glass of wine or a bottle of beer without fighting the noise for conversation or the crowd for a drink. An eclectic mix of dark wood

and modern furniture creates a laid-back atmosphere, and funky local art by J. C. Sumerville hangs on the walls. The trendy vibe is felt even in the light fixtures.

A charming porch wraps around the side of the National Historic Register house, allowing customers to unwind while watching the traffic go by on Main Street. Ironically, one of the home’s early owners was a prominent

Photo by Debbie Smartt

bootlegger during the Prohibition era.

“We wanted to create a lounge-type feel,” Spencer says, as he turns on the jazz music that will filter through JJ’s all night. “People seem to love the whole concept.”

Full-glass servings can range in price to upwards of $100 – which means patrons have an opportunity to taste a world-class wine before committing to a larger purchase. Yet many of the selections are less than $10 a glass, and all of the wines can be purchased by the bottle.

Jill and Spencer handle the daily operations, including the wine selections that JJ’s offers each rotate each month. Neither had previous experience, and it’s been as much of a fun learning process for them as it is for their customers. On this particular afternoon, they are sampling a red Bordeaux blend. Each wine is tasted and chosen (with the help experts) by the owners.

And if you’re looking for a bite to eat, JJ’s also offers delicious small plates – from fresh soups and salads to tapas and rich desserts – in their large dining room. The space is also available for parties, social mixers, wine-education classes and tastings.

For more information on JJ’s Wine Bar, visit their website.