Something Special in Downtown Kingston: Brunette Wine Bar
33 Broadway |

“A dark-haired girl is a very ordinary thing, but call her a brunette and all of a sudden she becomes mysterious, sophisticated, a little special.” — Tracy Kennard

And just like that, you’ve turned heads. Welcome to Brunette.

This former barber shop turned wine bar in the Rondout district of downtown Kingston, NY is where you’ll find longtime upstate weekenders, Jamie and Tracy Kennard, pouring delicate drinks from behind their elegant marble bartop, plating simple snacks atop butter pats and impeccably pairing them alongside a daily-changing selection of natural wines sourced from local producers upstate and around the world.

“Opening Brunette has been a purely selfish endeavor,” admits Tracy, a fashion and lifestyle consultant who – along with her husband, Jamie, a graphic designer – splits her time between the city and country. “It started as a way to justify spending more time upstate and, encouraged and inspired by our friends Michael and Theresa at Kingston Wine Co., evolved into an excuse to build a local gathering spot—the kind of place we and our friends want to hang out.”

Tracy and Jamie purposefully work with small wineries so that they can speak directly to where and how their wine is produced. “We love learning that some grapes are grown next to livestock, or that the grapes are handpicked at dawn in a hand-carried basket to preserve the delicate flavor of the juice,” says Tracy. “These details help inform our opinions of the wines we select and serve, and they help us fall in love with them more and more every day.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  Brunette is so sunlit and airy with its painted white brick walls, gorgeous wainscoting and tin ceilings, you would have a hard time believing what the space looked like beforehand. “It was rough—big, raw, empty with ugly sheetrock painted maroon and yellow, a jewel-toned McDonalds,” says Tracy, who also recalls a slop sink in the bathroom, holes in the walls, and clunky track lighting. “The first thing we did was divide the space in half by putting up a wall because we wanted the bar to feel intimate. Then we spent the next three months designing, renovating and refining the space to the point where it was literally unrecognizable.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “We knew from the start that we wanted Thonet bentwood stools and chairs,” she says. “They may be ubiquitous, but they’re also classic and unassuming and suit our style perfectly. When we sell our 10,000th glass of wine, we’ll get them upholstered in white leather with brass tacks.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  Their marble bartop and tables are from the workshop yard of artisans Barra & Trumbore in Kerhonkson, NY. “That curved cove edge detail is a little weird and old-fashioned and not something that is done that often, but I love the softness it adds to the stone.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com
Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “It has taken a lot of self-control not to buy every porcelain swan that crosses my path. We use that swan for salt, or sometimes for olive pits,” says Tracy, who loves finding ways to repurpose her tag sale finds. “I don’t really save special things for special occasions. I’ve always been like that—I wear the same clothes on the weekend that I do during the week to work or at night to the bar. I believe in using things—the more scratched or broken they are, the more they were loved…”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com
Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  Tracy designed the menu, which changes daily. “Right now, we have a pét-nat rosé on our menu that’s a little bit meaty and foggy and reminds me of that summer daze that warms your eyelids after a day of hanging out at the swimming hole.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  When it comes to snacks, the two like to keep it clean and simple, for example: “We serve rosemary and lemon-marinated olives and almonds that we roast ourselves in a mix of brown sugar, cayenne and rosemary.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “This is our cake salé with ham, thyme and gruyère. We also make a vegetarian version. My favorite is with basil and tomme fermiere, but the herbs change depending on what’s in the garden or at the market.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “Of course, all the snacks pair great with wine. I especially love the cake salé with crémant. We have one right now, called French Bubble from Patrick Piuze, that is super dry and just the tiniest bit salty and they are perfect together.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “I’ve always loved those cheapie gold metal frames. I get them at tag sales for a quarter. We didn’t want to be super literal with brunettes on everything, but we thought the bathroom was a good place to have a little fun. I have an entire archive of more brunettes I’d like to hang, but I need to find more frames!”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “I would say our personal taste comes through pretty vividly at Brunette. We like things simple and functional and not too cluttered,” explains Tracy. “But we also live for the little things like linen doilies, pressed glass, proper silver—they’re all functional details, but not necessary, which is what makes them so special and personal.”

Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com
Brunette Wine Bar in Kingston, NY. andnorth.com

  “Something I never really thought about before opening the bar is how much I enjoy hosting friends and impromptu guests,” says Tracy. “Whether at our house, or at the bar, that feeling when someone walks through the door just never gets old.”

3 comments

  1. looks so wonderful and perfect!! cannot wait to come! congrats Tracy & Jamie!! <3 <3

    1. Thanks, Ruth! Look forward to seeing you and Al!

  2. Awesome, congrats Tracy and Jamie! Can’t wait to swing by!

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