Rustic Grape

Melissa Ward

Rustic Grape


What is your favorite part of being a restaurant owner or chef in Asheville?

This is such a collaborative restaurant and community.  Many owners/managers of other restaurants have been so helpful and welcoming of this project since the beginning, and still lend great on-going support.  AIR is a huge part of that as well. 

What is the background of your restaurant’s name? 

It lends itself to the rustic/organic nature of farmer/grower wines and the history of breaking bread and communing while drinking wine with family and friends.  It also speaks to the food being simple and artful yet rustic in nature. Nothing fancy or pretentious, rather hearty and welcoming.

What ingredient could you not live without?  

Cheese, because it is such a wonderful marriage with wine. So many cheeses go with various styles of wine.  Its hard to go wrong and it usually goes oh so right.  We are fortunate to have access to such lovely local artisan family run farms and creameries.  We are sponsors of the NC Cheese Trail and have several wonderful local cheeses on our menu. 

What is your favorite dish on your menu?  

We worked very hard to come up with a pimento cheese recipe that could rate as fantastic in the south.  “The Southern” on our menu calls you to “channel your inner southern with our house made smokey pimento cheese paired with applewood smoked ham, sweet and slightly spicy pepper jelly served with chips & chips as your vehicle. 

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant’s menu? 

We often go to Posana for great gluten free options but in general, everything they do is fantastic.  Currently it is their short-ribs.

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?  

Asheville chose us, it wasn’t a plan already in the works. The short story is we met here at Metro Wines, started dating, visited a charming Charleston wine bar and thought Asheville could use more wine, vs beer.  With our complimentary business and hospitality backgrounds, the backing of a good friend and Mountain Biz Works, our fun idea became a dream come true.  By the way, we got happily married along the way. 

What is your favorite chef’s tool and why?

The corkscrew because it opens each unique bottle, pouring out the wonderful story of where and from whom it came from, and ends with the story we make with it among friends.