April 30, 2014
by Jay Magee
As longer connection times, late arrivals and a host of other hassles have tarnished the once-friendly skies, airports have stepped in to provide weary travelers with more terrestrial delights between their flights. Massage stations, rock-climbing walls and libraries are some of the many amenities you’ll find in 21st century air terminals.
And so it goes with Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), which is banking on wine to soothe the weary traveler and connoisseurs alike with the Vino Volo wine lounge, shop and restaurant.
The 9-year-old, 35-location San Francisco-based chain, entrenched predominantly in North American airports, landed in JIA’s Terminal C last Thursday. It’s the chain’s first outlet in Florida and the Southeast in general.
Vino deals primarily in reds, whites and the occasional bubbles, by the glass ($8-29) or the bottle, with local and regional varietals selected by local management. About half of what you’ll find here can be tracked down at other retail outlets, with the balance from exclusive deals with vineyards. Based on demand, wine menus can rotate each week, but usually monthly. Flights of three glasses always are available ($10-20), served on metallic trays with perforated coasters that share the lineage of your chosen glass.
You’ll also find a crafty collection of small bites, entr?e-size plates and a sweet treat or two ($3-17). Think Brie & Prosciutto Sandwiches, Smoked Salmon Rolls, Roasted Lamb Meatballs, etc. But make no mistake, the focus here is clear.
“Wine is food,” proclaimed Marco Di Bernardo, the chain’s director of development, who swooped in for a soft-opening gathering on Wednesday with airport staff and board members.
Vino’s post-security location near the midpoint of the A and C terminals makes it a convenient spot for most travelers, at most a 2-minute-long huff to the far reaches of either. Because it is after your run-in with TSA, passengers can cork their liquid purchases for carry-on to their next destination, or to enjoy in-flight (depending on your airline’s regulations).
For the truly time-pressed traveler, Di Bernardo said the number-one thing Vino Volo can do to serve them is to educate them about various wines, some of which they may have never tasted based on regional variations. And since JAX is known as an origin-and-destination airport (the place where most travelers stay or return to vs. connect elsewhere), it’s easy for most to arrive home from a trip and have more time to make purchases.
Vino Volo is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. You’ll have to have a valid boarding pass and ID to stop by. Visit vinovolo.com to learn more about the chain. For other food and dining options at JIA, check out flyjax.com.