Norfolk’s Secret Garden You Didn’t Know You Needed.
Norfolk boasts plenty of spots for incredible food, drink, and merriment throughout the city. But there’s one experience that’s truly one-of-a-kind in Norfolk, unparalleled by anything else in the area. Nestled away in the heart of the Chelsea District is Grandiflora Wine Garden. Grandiflora is an inn, vegetarian restaurant, and a natural wine bar. Upon setting foot in this beautiful garden escape, guests can see and feel the thought that goes into each piece of the Grandiflora puzzle. The garden itself is the perfect backdrop for patrons to enjoy bites and beverages, boasting lush greenery surrounding the patio to provide a feeling of nature and comfort. For those who prefer the indoor dining experience, the cozy and elegant nook seating within the Victorian-inspired venue is also excellent for enjoying wine and cheese.
One of the three friendly owners is always quick to greet guests upon arrival. From there, guests are taken on a journey around the world. Guests get a full breakdown of the natural wines, hand-picked from various countries, followed by experiencing Turkish-inspired dishes to enjoy with a glass of vino.
Grandiflora Sips and Snacks
For guests visiting on Wednesday through Saturday evenings, wine tastings and a full dinner menu are available. On the wine front, there are special-themed tasting events offered throughout each month. There’s also a complete list of natural wines to enjoy by the glass or bottle, and if you’re feeling lucky, you can go for the dealer’s choice.
The owners are very knowledgeable about the world of wine. Not only are they well versed on the wines they hand-picked for their menu and pairings for each, but also on the regional varieties of grapes and different wine-making processes. Part of the appeal of going to Grandiflora is letting the owners take you on the journey of how the wine you’re drinking ended up in your glass. If you’re still craving more after your tasting, you can pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy at home from their take-home wine shop.
Their food menu perfectly complements the extensive wine list, including a scrumptious vegetarian spread ranging from sandwiches to cheese boards and mezze platters. Those visiting on Sunday mornings get to enjoy a traditional Turkish breakfast, or köy kahvaltı, inspired by owner Erin’s Turkish background. This tapas-style breakfast includes various small dishes brought out in three different courses, allowing visitors to spread out their experience at a leisurely pace. Many of the vegetables served are even grown in Grandiflora’s own garden!
Connecting through Food and Wine
When speaking with the owners, a word that frequently came up was ‘connection.’ The goal of Grandiflora is to help people connect within the Norfolk community. Hear what the owners, Erin, Jason, and Kenny, had to say about chasing their dream of starting Grandiflora Wine Garden.
What inspired Grandiflora Wine Garden?
We wanted to grow a space that feels both organic and inspiring to the community. Our intention is to offer guests an intimate yet rustic and casual way to enjoy natural wine and healthy vegetarian dining both in the garden and indoors. We want our space to feel healing to the community. Wine is a passion of ours – it expresses the health and culture of where it’s from, and it offers so much opportunity to connect with our guests.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
One of our goals is to empower our guests to feel comfortable talking about natural wine through education. We feel rewarded when guests connect with wine and want to keep learning more! We also consider ourselves stewards of the community and the land, and we feel very happy when we witness other guests taking care of the space and each other (by picking up trash on the street, being respectful to plants, birds, and insects, and being considerate of other guests and staff).
What’s the process for deciding which wines and foods to offer?
Ultimately, the three of us form a cohesive unit that has been built on more than 2 years of planning and construction projects to get to where we could start working with wine and food.
Regarding wine, Erin and Jason continuously research natural wine producers that are offered through our distributor’s portfolios. (In Virginia, all wine has to be purchased through a distributor, so without them we couldn’t do what we do.) Erin is our wine buyer and the cultivator of our wine menu, and she enjoys pairing guests with wines. Jason does most of our tableside selling, making recommendations and educating about the wines. Kenny is our kitchen manager, who creates and executes all of the dishes that we plan and decide on together. Erin’s Turkish background and her and Jason’s experiences in Turkey have inspired us to offer Turkish breakfast every Sunday.
How would you describe your favorite wine?
We love any wine that expresses both the health of the land on which the grapes were grown and the culture and intentionality of the wine producer. A wine should be true to the place it’s from, and it should be enjoyed as a piece of art.
As readers can tell, the Grandiflora owners have a true passion for helping people connect over wine and would love to do that with you. You can visit them Wednesday and Thursday from 5pm – 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm – 10pm, or on Sunday for their Turkish breakfast from 11am – 2pm.
Up next on their wine tasting event schedule for October is a German wine collection. Danke schön!
Tiffany grew up in Chesapeake but has called Norfolk home for the past seven years. She fell in love with the city while working with Festevents during college summer breaks. She graduated from James Madison University (Go Dukes!) with a degree in corporate communication. Tiffany now works as a digital marketing specialist and enjoys strolling and rollerblading her way around Norfolk. She lives in Ghent with her husband Trevor, and their two cats, Tux and Joe.