When you walk through the door at Luisa’s Cellar, you may think you’ve been transported to the set of a classic film. I almost expected to see Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman seated in the corner, bringing to life a scene out of Casablanca. The warm, vintage decor harken back to a time before smartphones and televisions, a place where friends and family can reconnect over food and drink, without the distractions of the outside world. And that’s exactly what husband and wife owners Mary and Sascha intended when they opened their wine, craft beer, and tapas (and more!) bar in Historic Downtown Sanford.
Heritage and History
Luisa’s Cellar is named in honor of Mary’s late grandmother. Mary hails from Puerto Rico while Sascha is from Germany. Their heritages are so important to them that you’ll find many family pictures on display throughout the place, and the stories that go along with the images will make you feel like part of the family too.
It was the German connection with Theo Hollerbach, owner of Sanford’s Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe, that brought them to town. After a little convincing, and a town tour, Mary and Sachsa moved their successful wine, beer, and tapas bar in Clermont to a larger space in Historic Downtown Sanford on Sanford Avenue.
Wine and Beer
It’s easy to see Mary and Sascha’s passions on display at Luisa’s. Mary is an extremely knowledgeable sommelier, currently working on her Level Three certification in the Court of Master Sommeliers. She shares her wine insight with ease and excitement, making choosing a bottle of fermented grapes from their huge selection interesting for both wine newbies and experienced sippers.
Continue your wine tour by sampling varietals from the automated dispensers, allowing you to taste the more unique or pricier options of bottles. A highlight of our visit was learning about organic wines which were available for sampling from the dispensers.
If you need a place to store all the delicious bottles of wine you’ll be picking up at Luisa’s, look no further than their convenient wine lockers. For a fee, members will get their name engraved on the door and the key to the locker, in addition to special discounts and promotions. Lockers are placed on a dimly lit wall next to the chilled wine dispensers, keeping your stash at the ideal temperature.
We all know Sanford is a drinking town with a historical problem, so it’s only fitting that Mary and Sascha have labeled Luisa’s Cellar as a wine bar with a craft beer problem. The yin to Mary’s yang, Sascha can tell you anything you want to know about craft beer. Did we know that the Hanson brothers of “Mmmm Bop” fame brewed beer? No, but they do, and you can pick up a bottle from the cooler. Did we experience the satisfaction of seeing one our favorite stouts available in a can? Yes, we did, and we’ll be taking several home with us.
With so many unique labels and styles to choose from, Luisa’s has something for everyone in the wine and beer kingdom.
Tapas, Desserts, and Coffee
But what’s a glass of wine or beer without a fine selection of meats, cheeses, and desserts? Mary suggested we pair an Arneis, an Italian white wine, with their generous charcuterie board, overflowing with a variety of gourmet cheeses, cured meats, nuts, fruit, and crackers. We analyzed the savory flavors of the charcuterie with the floral notes of the wine, while satisfying our penchant for nibbling on luxe snacks.
And don’t you dare leave without at least a look at the dessert offerings. Treat yourself to a decadent cake or pastry; Luisa’s has teamed up with Yalaha Bakery for a full dessert bar. But if you forgo the sweets for the “other” dessert category, Luisa’s has a selection of cheeses you can take home with your chosen bottle of wine, perfect for your next picnic.
I decided to drink my dessert calories and ordered “The Brie,” a hot chocolate with raspberry, white chocolate, and whip cream, which I unapologetically wiped from my nose. Luisa’s also offers a list of dessert coffees, all of which can be spiked with liqueur.
The menus will be changing regularly, keeping our taste buds educated and always coming back for more.
The Book Shop
Feel free to head upstairs to feed your brain after filling your stomach. Books line the walls for perusal or purchase. Sit and stay for a spell as you enjoy a glass of wine while pouring over Julia Child’s recipes. Mary also envisions the space as being useful for aspiring sommeliers needing a quiet and inspiring place to study their craft.
Just in case you need more to entertain your senses, Luisa’s Cellar has special events to fill your calendar. Wine pairings and distinguished winemaker seminars will feature alongside the ongoing and weekly favorites such as Bring Your Own Vinyl Tuesdays, Wine Down Wednesdays, Cosplay and Karaoke Thursdays, and Sunday Brunch. And expect to see performances from the Orlando Fringe Festival appear on the outdoor patio in the cooler months.
Luisa’s should definitely be on your list as the place to gather around a table with family and friends to enjoy good drinks and food, sharing your own heritages and cultures just as Mary and Sascha have shared with all of us.
Shhhh . . . It’s a Secret
Follow Historic Downtown Sanford and keep your eyes peeled to learn about the secret that
everyone no one is talking about. We have been prohibited warned about speaking revealing any further!
206 Sanford Avenue
Sanford, Florida 32771
Hours 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM