Traci McWain quietly sang to herself as she arranged bright pink quail’s eggs on a bed of artichokes in the studio kitchen of Golden Isles Olive Oil on St. Simons Island. As McWain worked, Donna MacPherson happily greeted patrons who entered the doors, sitting down to suggest wine and cheese plates.
It was a standard Saturday for the bustling storefront in Redfern Village — the staff splitting time between checking out those purchasing olive oil and preparing for the evening’s dinner party. They also continued to serve up their customary wine and cheese pairings.
The operation is MacPherson’s brainchild and she has recently started taking the location in a bit of a new direction.
“This (the wine side) just opened June 2. We kind of evolved ... people came in and wanted lunch so we had a menu and became more of a restaurant. But what I wanted to be was more of a cooking school and event center,” she said.
“I’m transitioning it back to that. We will still have happy hours with wine and cheese boards but it is going to be more of a lunch and learn. We will have private dinner parties. We will also be doing supper clubs every Saturday night.”
Some of the dinner parties that Golden Isles Olive Oil hosts are fundraisers. The most recent, for instance, raised money for the local nonprofit House of Hope that works to fight human trafficking.
MacPherson and McWain, the culinary center’s chef, are looking to offer more of those options in the future as well, including classes.
“I’m going to be doing classes like ‘the art of the spring roll’ which will be interactive. We will do some that will be more demonstrations ... but you’ll get to eat the lunch or whatever I’m demoing that day,” McWain said with a laugh.
“We will do different varieties of soups and classes on meal prepping. We will have an ongoing knife skills series.”
Regardless of what classes are happening, wine will remain a focal point. MacPherson and McWain are always looking for new and interesting vinos to add to the extensive wine list.
While the crisp days of fall might be far away, they are already turning their attention to bold and bright selections that fit the season along with cheese boards that complement the flavors.
“We have great response with the Albarino, which is from Spain. It’s the Albarino grape. It’s one we just discovered through our wine tastings,” MacPherson said of the wine.
“It’s not a fruity wine but it is a fruit forward wine, which pretty much all white wines are,” McWain added. “It’s crisp, it’s light, it’s very clean ... food friendly and it goes with anything. I think it would go well with the balsamic or manchego cheeses ... gouda too.”
Vinho Verde is another selection the ladies are loving.
“This is another beautiful wine from Portugal,” MacPherson said.
“I think it is a little more rare,” McWain added of the white.
The wine can also come in red or rosé. It is also light enough for the sultry days of summer but transitions well into a wine perfect for fireside sipping.
They also have several big bold reds full of flavor for fall. They carry wines from Oregon and the North West, as well as French and Italian wines.
“We have the Haut-Médoc from Bourdeaux region (of France). We have a temperanilo, which is Spainish, which is a really nice wine. We have a lot of ‘super reds’ or ‘super Tuscan,’” McWain said.