Much like a Bordeaux from the south of France, wine experts and casual drinkers blend together at Cellar 24.

The locally owned wine bar in The Woodlands at Sterling Ridge Shopping Center is a casual place to gather for those looking for a happy hour with live music. But it is also of interest for the connoisseur of boutique wines and craft beers.

Anchored by a Kroger’s grocery store, the Sterling Ridge Shopping Center offers the sole dedicated drinking establishment for the surrounding neighborhoods. Because of this, Cellar 24 has become something of a neighborhood hangout.

"People have dubbed us the 'Cheers' of the Woodlands," Cellar 24 co-owner Shelli Moran-Styles said. "It's a place for people to gather and enjoy each other's company over a glass of wine and plate of food. If you come into our wine bar and sit down, by the time you leave you may know six to eight people that you didn't know before."

Cellar 24 opened in January 2014 after Woodlands Wine Co. closed. It was a moment of being in the right place at the right time for Moran-Styles, who at the time was owner of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in The Woodlands. When the owner of Woodlands Wine Co. announced the business was closing, Moran-Styles jumped at the chance to own a wine business of her own, she said.

Partnering with her then fiance and now husband, Justin Styles, the pair melded her food and beverage experience with his upbringing in Sonoma Valley, California.

“I’ve always been in the heart of California wine country but never directly involved,” Styles said. “The business part is something I’ve always done, but I’m learning a lot from Shelli about the wine side.”

Cellar 24 offers food items such as bruschetta, crab cakes and artichoke dip made by Styles.

Moran-Styles said she takes careful consideration when selecting wines for Cellar 24. She only shops at boutique wineries—those producing 500 or fewer cases per year. Cellar 24 offers 210 different labels of red and white wines that range from $15 to $800 per bottle.

“We try to bring in boutique wines that you can’t find anywhere else,” she said. “You can’t go to a grocery store and find these wines.”

Cellar 24 offers food items such as bruschetta, crab cakes and artichoke dip made by co-owner Shelli Moran-Styles. Cellar 24 offers food items such as bruschetta, crab cakes and artichoke dip made by co-owner Shelli Moran-Styles.[/caption]

The boutique selection of wine allows Cellar 24 to rotate the labels frequently. In fact, wine selections change so often that Moran-Styles created a wine club so frequent customers can try new offerings each month. Some benefits of being in the wine club include two bottles of wine per month that are not available to the public, 10 percent off bottles for sale or 15 percent off cases for sale, and private invitations to special tastings with winemakers.

Sparkling white wine is by the glass. Sparkling white wine is by the glass.[/caption]

At 300 members strong, the Cellar 24 wine club offers three levels of membership—the entry level at $40 per month; the Exclusive level at $60 per month that is only open to 100 people at a time; and the upper echelon level at $90 per month that offers hand-selected, reserve-quality bottles for members.

“The wine club is designed to force our clientele to drink outside the box,” Moran-Styles said. “Drinking cool and eclectic wines from other countries and unique varietals is something they may not have picked up on their own.”

For those who are not quite ready to commit to a monthly wine club, Cellar 24 offers tastings every other Wednesday from 5:30-7 p.m. For $10, customers can sample six to nine different wines available that month. For first-time guests, Moran-Styles recommends trying camberley, a South African wine. The hybrid of pinot noir and cinsaut is silky with dark fruits and pairs well with Cellar 24’s beef empanadas, she said.

A rotating menu of small food plates is also available. In addition to being the wine expert, Moran-Styles is also the in-house chef and creates a menu that focuses on locally made, organic foods. Menu items include cheese plates, pizza, bruschetta, empanadas, crabcakes and hummus. The house specialty, however, is warm and baked artichoke dip served with crusty French bread ($8).

On Friday and Saturday nights, Cellar 24 provides live music. For non-wine drinkers, 10 to 12 craft beers are available at the wine bar as well.