The Solera Comments Archive contains comments made prior to 2010
2006-12-31 15:31:56 I went here last night. Decent wine menu, prices are from $5 and up for a nice glass of wine. Poor choice of beers (things like Guiness but no nice craft beers) but hey, its a wine bar. No food available. You can get a bottle for about $25 and up. The inside is nicely (though sparsley) decorated, which adds to the charm. Heavy velvet curtains on the windows to keep out the cold and single votives on each table. The inside is small but intimate with a few tables for two, a few larger tables and a few seats at the bar. You will need to order at the bar and bring it back to your table. The bartender was helpful and friendly. A nice pre-Geva experience. —DeniseElliott
2007-01-21 17:50:02 Decent wine menu? I'd like to see a better or more interesting wine-by-the glass list in Rochester...not to mention how often the selection rotates. Solera now also has one of the best bottled-beer lists in the City, over 15 selections from cult-microbrews to European classics. Thanks for your kind comments though Denise, we appreciate it! —JohnSolera
2007-01-29 10:18:23 I liked the idea of a wine bar (having never been to one), and when I stopped in for the first time last weekend, this little place was just what I hoped it would be. Nice atmosphere. Small and cozy, elegant, sophisticated. The owner/bartender knew what he was doing. My friends and I had a nice time trying wines, and we agreed we'd definitely be back. There were breadsticks at the bar to clear the palatte, but we would have liked something to nibble on. This is obviously not the sort of place that should be serving burgers and wings, but a tray with some combination of: cheese, fruit, cured meats, and bread would have been neat. Still this spot is a wonderful addition to our town —EastSideStephen
2007-05-24 11:06:50 This place is just awesome, and that's not just because it's right around the corner from me, though that helps. I've never seen half the wines on their menu, neither the varietals nor in many cases the vineyards. Nice, lush atmosphere despite being a very small place. Can't wait to go back and get mellow! —DragonFlyEye
2008-01-20 09:32:21 I've been wanting to try this place. Went last night around 9:00 PM. It was packed so we didn't stay, the place and the crowd looked great. Very nice to see. Glad you are doing well. Congrats. We'll try again. —BigPun
2008-01-29 09:50:14 I have been here a few times and like it. I like wine and know a few things but am still more of a beer guy. They must have changed things because the beer selection is not bad at all, maybe 15 or so if I remember correctly. The wine selection is good. The last time I was there I think they were doing something where you could order a selection of cheeses with crackers. More of that would be great. —BadFish
2008-01-29 10:48:47 I went here sometime before Christmas, and it was a nice change from going to a 'regular' bar. There was a nice wine list, interesting music playing and it's decor is very welcoming. It is a bit on the small side however, so don't expect to comfortably hang out with a huge group of people. It is a nice place for an intimate conversation and a glass of wine with a friend/date. —SaraChristine
2008-02-01 08:56:16 Solera has a very unique vibe in Rochester. I don't know anything about wine, so I can't judge Solera on that front. I wish they could do something to make each table a little set off from the others, though; the intimate atmosphere is diminished if everyone can hear every word their neighbors are saying. —OwenThompson
2008-06-23 07:39:43 Really disappointed that there are no local wines here. Also the atmosphere seemed really cliquey - the owner spent the whole time I was there (around an hour) sitting outside drinking a beer (nice advertisement for a wine bar, eh?) and smoking cigarettes with his friends. The bartender was not friendly, except to the clique from outside when they came in for refills. Wines were overpriced and pours were skimpy. The cheeseboard (which I did not order but saw patrons next to me eating) looked pretty skimpy too — a "baguette" the likes of which you could buy at Walmart, three thin slices of cheese, and some dabs of fruit. Not impressed, and will not be back. —ZeldaPinwheel
"2008-06-26 13:36:25" Ouch! That one hurt ZeldaPinwheel! I am truly sorry that you had such a dissapointing experience, but I would like to touch base on a few points if I may. I am the owner, and truly don't understand why my drinking a beer outside is such poor advertising? Could you explain a bit? It seems that my smoking and drinking a beer did offend you though - and I do agree that for health reasons I really should drink more wine and smoke less. I would also suggest that you actually try something before so harshly criticizing it, i.e. the cheese board. For all you actually tasted, that Walmart bread, thin cheese, and fruit gobs could have been the best darn thing you've ever tasted. My cheese board gets torn apart without me even getting the $10 for it, damn! I hope nobody starts criticizing the wine from across the room! Speaking of which, our pours are consistenly 5oz., a very standard pour, and in my opinion priced accordingly. I don't disagree with you regarding local wines. The list rotates often and I have featured a handful of NY wines, but not many. There are valid reasons that you do not see more NY wines by the glass, in both Solera and other establishments. I could explain it to you in depth if you were interested, but won't go into it here. Anyway, I've had pretty favorable reviews on this site thus far - I imagine it was just a matter of time before someone with such an agenda as yours got on here!
I am sincerely sorry that you were dissapointed, and sincerely sorry that you won't be back. Thanks for the comments. —JohnSolera
2008-07-03 16:23:48 Solera is a great place. Intimate locale, great for a night to just chill with your friends and drink some wine.
They should really hang a larger sign if they would like to draw more people in, when the drapes are closed it doesnt look like the place is in business. Being discreet cant bode well for profits. —MrRochester
2008-08-12 20:24:14 John, I respect your right to drink beer, but if you own a wine bar? For heaven's sake, drink wine while you're sitting *outside* the place. Not rocket science. If you choose beer, then it indicates that even you can't find a good wine at your own bar. Regarding the cheese plate, I don't have to taste the cheese (oe spend my hard earned money on it) to know that they are thin. Please note I didn't criticize the taste, but restricted my comments to its appearance. I wish you luck, I think the idea of Solera is great and I love to see local establishments succeed, but I didn't feel welcomed there. Sorry. —ZeldaPinwheel
2009-02-18 20:35:25 Solera is a great place to meet and relax with friends. You have have a good glass of wine and some good conversation without trying to yell over the music which is a big negative of most bars. The decor provides great ambiance and I love the little touches that you don't see in most establishments. In response to ZeldaPinwheel's comment about the cheeseboard, I have eaten this in the past and it is fantastic. Great assortment that meld together very well. Now for the negatives: the staff never look very happy to be there. It seems in a way that they are there to hang out with friends and you are bothering them for a drink. I have seen John there almost every time I've been there and I would have to say that it would be nice if he welcomed people as they came in or walked around to check on people. Also, I have to agree that there should be more NYS wines. I would be interested in hearing from John as to why he doesn't stock them. Also, in the beginning it seemed like there were a greater number of "reasonably" priced wines, now the expensive, reserve wines dominate the menu. That's great for those who have fatter wallets with fine taste but unfortunately I am stuck in the $20-40 price range. I would be interested in knowing the ratio of people who can afford to drop $100 on a bottle versus the "working joes" like me who order a $30 bottle. Just a thought... —dmarie
Hi dmarie. Thank you for the positive comments. I won't comment on your opinion of my staff or myself; while I disagree, it is of course a matter of opinion. You did ask that I explain why I don't carry more local wines. Basically, it is a price vs. quality issue. I am extremely familiar with the Finger Lakes wine region, and all that they produce. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of wineries producing truly high-quality wines, and compared to almost every other wine region in the world, the prices can be prohibitive. I try to keep my by-the-glass prices very reasonable, and most Finger Lakes wines don't fit into that structure. For example, I can get an excellent German Riesling for a certain price, where I can then fairly charge $6 or $7 per glass. A Finger Lakes Riesling of the same quality will cost me AT LEAST 1/3 more, and now I have to sell that glass for at least $8 or $9. Red wine is a completely different story; to get a good quality Pinot Noir from the Finger Lakes (as opposed to France, S. America, etc.) I would have to charge at least TWICE AS MUCH for that glass. Many people assume that a local wine should cost less because of its locality, when it fact it is the opposite. The Finger Lakes is one of the most challenging wine regions in the world, and those difficulties are passed on to the consumer. Not to mention, I have received requests for more Finger Lakes wine since the day I opened almost two and half years ago, but the several times I have carried Finger Lakes wines (Hosmer, Casa Larga, Chateau Lafayette Reneau) they have without a doubt been my slowest sellers. So while it is very trendy for people to request more local wines, the customer support just IS NOT THERE when I finally choose to do so. I currently carry Ravines Wine Cellars Keuka Village White. It is a rare excellent value from the Finger Lakes. In the two weeks it is been on the list, it is been my slowest wine white to sell, behind wines from Argentina, Austria, Germany, Spain, and California. Bottom line, I would love to support more local wines, and am always looking for wines that would work within my structure and that my customers will enjoy AND actually purchase. But, until the local wine region both increases its quality across the board AND is able to produce wines that bars/restaurants can afford to pour by the glass, you are not likely to see a large number of NY wines on lists either at Solera, or other local establishments.
In the end I very much agree with you, and plan on taking more time this year to try to "discover" some new and exciting Finger Lakes wines, as I do believe that supporting local industry and agriculture is extremely important.
If I may also address your comment "in the beginning it seemed like there were a greater number of "reasonably" priced wines, now the expensive, reserve wines dominate the menu."
This is simply not true. When opening we had about 12 wines by the glass, priced from $5 to $8 per glass. We now have about twice that by the glass, all within the same price range. While we have added a longer "bottle only" list to satisfy the customer that DOES want to spend more for a higher-end bottle, our selection of "reasonably priced" wines is in fact much longer than it ever has been. Please don't be intimidated by a list of higher-priced wines, it does nothing to take away from the original vision; to always have an exciting, varied, and reasonably priced list of wines by the glass.
I very much appreciate your business dmarie, and I thank you for the comments. —JohnSolera
2009-03-01 15:41:34 John, Thanks for answering my questions! It is great to see an owner who is involved and cares what their support base thinks. In terms of my "negative" comments, I just want to clear up any misconceptions. You always look very happy to be there! My comment regarding this was more directed at some of the staff that I have interacted with. I guess my thought behind what I originally stated was that some of my favorite restaurants are the ones where the owners greet everyone personally or check on every table when able to. It lends to a personal, comfortable feel. While you always look happy, I have never once been greeted (besides when ordering at the bar) or checked on. I really like Solera and have never had a truly negative experience. That is one of the only "areas for improvement" to truly make Solera an outstanding experience. Also, any thoughts to expand the "cheaper" wine list? While I respect that you run a wine bar and therefore what to have true quality wines, I just wonder regarding the economy and clientele if a greater amount of people would appreciate a wider, "cheaper" list to choose from. I realize that you have since opening, but it is still approximately 7 reds and 7 whites that run the gamut of taste which doesn't allow for a lot of variety. Just a thought.
Bottom line: I love Solera! This is truly one of my favorite "hang outs" and I hope you stay open for a long, long time! Thanks! —dmarie
2009-03-03 09:15:08 We stopped at Solera on Friday on our way to dinner, and had a great time. The wines by the glass list was very interesting – we saw some of our favorites and some things we had never encountered before and were happy to have an opportunity to try. The bartender was great – friendly, welcoming, and very knowledgeable. Her personality combined with the music and the decor all made for an atmosphere that is unlike anything else in Rochester. We stayed much longer than we intended to, and we’ll be back soon. The art of good bar tending and genuine conversation are ever more difficult to find, and both are very much alive at Solera. Thank you for this great place. —RG
2009-04-25 22:19:47 Last night Patrick, the bartender, after assuring me that the Pinot Noir he was pouring for my companion was "100% Pinot Noir—no Merlot or Cab in here" (the wine list didn't call it a blend), casually opened the binder containing the list and began scanning the selection of reds. Not finding what he was looking for there, he moved on to the whites but soon tired of his search and proceeded to ask me, referring to the Verdejo I'd ordered, "...is that a white?" At no point in the evening did there appear to be another staff person on duty to help and/or train Patrick. I would have loved to know a little more about the Verdejo (other than that it's Patrick's favorite white on the list, which he helpfully shared after the mystery of its identity had been cleared up), but, regrettably, there was no one working at Solera that night who could tell me anything further. —AprilDonahower
2009-06-19 16:48:26 I've been here a few times. Good range of prices and interesting wine selection. I do wish there were more local wines. I read the comments from the owner on here, and I'm disappointed that more people don't support local wines. I find it hard to believe all quality local wines are more expensive though. I've consistently ordered excellent $6 or $7 glasses of NY wine from other area establishments. Otherwise, I'm a fan. —SageK.
2009-10-03 13:11:53 Solera hs to be the only place of its kind in Rochester, and maybe even western New York. To step in off the street is to enter a different world—in fact, the Old world, since it feels more like a European pub or bistro than a bar. First there's the aethestics: the color theme is rich in wine tones: burgundy cushions, port-colored walls, and mahogany trim. It's all bathed in the soft light of a gorgeous chandelier and well-placed candles. The place is somehow intimate while still having a clean, uncluttered feeling, with just a half-dozen or so tables (all wood, some of them long, for groups).
The real hallmark of Solera, though, aside from its tasteful simplicity, lies in what it lacks—bar blare. The music, an ethnic mix with lots of samba and salsa, is loud enough to savor, but always in the background. It invites conversation—conversation!—and indeed the diverse clientele seems more practiced at artful discussion than drink.
As for the product itself, I don't know enough about wine to comment on the large selection, but the owners/partners John and the fetching Ellie are always ready to offer guidance, and are attuned enough by temperament to be masterful in their suggestions.
Solera is the very place to top off an evening after dinner or a movie (a dessert menu would put it over the top). Avoid it if you want to get hammered with alcohol or deafening music, come if you're looking to connect more meaningfully with those we otherwise fine no time for. —Bodhin