Pop the cork
Power couple Agustin “Gus” Corbella and Amanda Morrison are teaming up professionally in a new downtown venture called Poco Vino, a boutique wine shop and event space in historic Gallies Hall at 225 S. Adams St.
They plan to open Oct. 11, but the buzz is already building, with good reason.
“I love bringing what’s trending in other cities to Tallahassee,” said Morrison. “There’s no reason why we can’t have cool stuff here.”
Aside from selling about 100 different labels from smaller, more diverse wineries, the cool stuff will include wine tastings, ticketed dining pop-ups with chefs from Tallahassee and the Southeast, plus private event space.
The historic building, which held the city’s first theater, is an intimate setting with brick walls and arches and an actual greenhouse, which Morrison calls a “gorgeous magical space” perfect for private dinners.
“It’s the closest building to the Capitol,” said Corbella. “It’s a hidden gem that hasn’t seen a lot of foot traffic.”
The space, owned by the Florida Retail Federation, was occupied by Barnett Fronczak Barlowe Architects for decades.
“The federation could have had a lobbyist or law firm occupy the space but the fact they’re committed to bringing this unique concept downtown is exciting,” Corbella said.
Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation, is on board.
“We’re thrilled to welcome new energy downtown with the addition of Poco Vino,” he said. “It’s a good use of the available storefront, and I’m hopeful our members and team can enjoy all that it has to offer right next door.”
Corbella and Morrison are used to dreaming big. He’s a longtime lobbyist and governmental professional, currently the senior director of the Government Law & Policy Practice at Greenberg Traurig. He’s also the chair of Florida State University’s Opening Nights Performing Arts, among many other titles. Morrison, formerly a managing partner for Social Catering and Events, is now the owner of Happy Motoring at 1215 S. Adams St. and was named one of Tallahassee’s 25 Women You Need to Know in March.
They’re also both sommeliers with a passion for wine, great food and travel and they want to help make downtown Tallahassee come alive.
“We’ll be able to tell you something about every single wine in the shop and the story of how every single wine is made,” said Morrison, who is concentrating on wineries with sustainable farming methods. “Wine is becoming more accessible.”
The couple also wants to showcase a growing number of Black and women winemakers.
“These aren’t the wines you typically hear of or see on store shelves and to be able to put a spotlight on these is really great,” Corbella said. “But beyond the diversity, it’s all delicious.”
Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Jason Delgado and the staff of Florida Politics.
The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:
Masks on and off again – After Leon County Judge John Cooper vacated an automatic stay, putting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate ban on hold, the 1st District Court of Appeal reinstated the stay Friday, again preventing school districts from requiring students be masked. The Governor has a case to make, the court said. The order does not mean the court will rule for DeSantis. However, it has historically ruled in favor of the Governor and the Legislature. Thirteen Florida school districts have mask mandates in effect that only allow parents to opt out with a medical excuse, if at all.
Anti-riot bill halted in federal court – A federal judge temporarily blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans’ anti-riot bill on Thursday, calling the law unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. The bill “requires individuals to ‘speculate as to the meaning of penal statutes,’ at the risk of their liberty,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker wrote in his order coming out of Tallahassee. DeSantis shrugged off the order as no surprise. “That’s a foreordained conclusion in front of that court,” DeSantis said. “We will win that on appeal. I guarantee you we will win on appeal.”
DeSantis vows action against Biden’s vaccine mandates — DeSantis vowed to oppose recent COVID-19 vaccine mandates President Joe Biden announced in a “hissy fit.” Saying Biden was “acting outside of the Constitution,” DeSantis on Friday vowed he was “going to have the Legislature involved as well” to “fight back and offer protections.” Speaking at a 9/11 observance event, DeSantis said he sees the vaccine mandate opposition as “important much beyond this particular issue.” “If the federal government can get away with doing this, what’s going to come next?” DeSantis asked. Disputes over President’s COVID-19 response plan is just the latest flashpoint between Biden and DeSantis, who could potentially challenge him for the White House in 2024.
Wilton Simpson files for Agriculture Commissioner – Senate President Wilton Simpson, who has long been rumored to be eying the Agriculture Commissioner’s office, officially filed to run this week. Simpson is entering his final year in the Senate, where he’s served since 2012. “As a lifelong farmer, President Simpson knows that the seeds we plant today — for our families, our businesses, and for our communities — are the only way to grow a stronger Florida,” spokeswoman Erin Isaac said. Former President Donald Trump even gave the Republican egg farmer a preemptive endorsement in May. Last week, Simpson also made headlines for saying the Legislature would consider a Texas-style heartbeat abortion bill.
Lauren Book stripped of chairmanship – In more Simpson news, the Senate President removed Democratic Leader Lauren Book from her role at the helm of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, a role she’s had since the 2018 Session. And it’s definitely not because of her comments about the Texas bill or her past refusal to consider a heartbeat bill in her committee. Simpson replaced her with Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia. “In my view, if anyone could take on a dual leadership role, it would be Leader Book. However, reassigning the role to another Senator is in the best interest of the institution,” Simpson said in a statement expressing his confidence in Garcia.
Bigs in Blue
Attorney General Ashley Moody traveled to Miami this week to promote the Bigs in Blue mentorship program to Florida’s retired law enforcement community.
Facilitated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the mentorship program matches at-risk youth with law enforcement officers in the area.
The goal: establish a positive influence in the lives of at-risk children.
“As a juvenile judge, I witnessed firsthand the transformative difference a prime role model can make in a child’s life, and I can think of no better role models for our youth than law enforcement officers who devote their careers to protecting and serving others,” Moody said.
In all, 400 law enforcement officers throughout the state are paired with a mentee.
The addition of retired officers, Moody said, will help further the mission.
“The amount of success the Bigs in Blue program has already had here in Florida is overwhelmingly positive,” Moody added. Now, thanks to our great retired LEOs, we are going to be able to pave the way for further success.”
Bigs in Blue celebrated its two-year anniversary in Florida in July. Notably, the 400 matches in Florida span 46 law enforcement agencies across the state.
“With hundreds of opportunities for new mentor placements of retired officers and at-risk youth, we can continue to spread positive influence and build a Stronger, Safer Florida,” Moody said.
Active or retired LEOs interested in the Bigs in Blue program can find more information here.