Good wine and food: Rauschenbach finds the glass half full, never empty

Published 10:18 am Monday, March 12, 2012

Joni Rauschenbach works at her shop Joni Artisanal Wine and Beer in downtown Saluda. (photo by Bonnie J. Bardos)

Joni Rauschenbach of Saluda has been in the wine industry for almost 30 years: despite the fact she barely looks past 30. Lively, petite, with the spirit of an industrious wren, Joni found early on her passion was food. The connection then happened: good wine and food go together: Julia Child knew it! Joni does too.
She notes, “I have had many different jobs, working for distributors, wineries, importers and restaurants. In this industry it can be survival of the cockiest! It often turns into a group of purple teethed pretentiousness spitting off colorful words and fancy talk…one thing that took the longest for me to learn was that no one knows everything about wine (even if they think they do). As a matter of fact the more I learn about wine, the more I realize there is to learn. This knowledge made the whole world of wine much more approachable to me. I have learned so many things and am excited to share them.
“During my life in the wine industry, I have found myself in what I consider surreal surroundings – under a Tuscan hillside piazza dripping with Wisteria, sipping wine and enjoying a wonderful meal with the person who grew the grapes, the person who smashed the grapes, the person who created the wine, the winery owner and my dear husband and friends. The wholesomeness of this and like experiences are the meaning of wine to me.
“30 years later and here I am in my own little town, which has a couple of vineyards, and is surrounded by towns that have been known for many years as a grape growing region – Tryon. I own two tiny little businesses that allow me to incorporate everything I have learned and love. My wine bar, hidden under the historical Saluda Inn has at any time around 20 wines by the glass from all over the world. The rock walls, three fireplaces and over-all ambiance creates a European feel from the moment you step down into the cellar. To finish it off, there is local art and music. And then there is Joni Artisanal Wine and Beer.”

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