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What's Up Magazine

TV News Anchor Juggles Family Life, New Wine Bar

Jul 20, 2011 09:17PM ● By Anonymous

While he has pursued the first passion as the lead anchor on WTTG-TV Fox 5, Bolter’s latest venture brings his love of wine to the forefront. The Red Red Wine Bar is on the verge of opening on Main Street in ANnapolis, where it is meant to be a haven for wine lovers, a neighborhood enclave, and a place to relax. Bolter lives in Annapolis with his wife, Lisa, and his two children, son Bailey, 5, and daughter, Barrett, 2. The husband and wife duo took a moment out of their busy lives to talk with us about wine, life as a celebrity, and their love of Annapolis.

What’s Up? How did you get started in the news industry?
Brian Bolter: I always knew I wanted to write for a living and use pictures to tell stories. After taking a part-time production job in a small California television newsroom after college I thought to myself, “I can do this!” Then, the tour of America began. In TV you have to go where the jobs are. That meant packing up and taking my first job in Fort Smith, Ark. (I even applied for positions in Alaska and Guam. I would have gone, too, if they called.) After another stop in Arkansas, then Illinois, and a stint in Baltimore, I was finally able to settle down in Washington, D.C., more than a decade ago.

What’s your schedule like as a TV anchor?
Hectic. Fluid. Nonstop. I work nights in order to front the station’s main newscasts at 6, 10 and 11 p.m. Newsrooms are mini-tornados of activity and thankfully, as an anchor, I get to be in the middle of it all, daily.

WU: How are you going to find the time to do your news job and run the bar?
BB: I think that, luckily for me, my two passions in life are storytelling and wine. My day job—well, technically, my night job—at channel 5 embraces my storytelling passion, and I’m combining the two with the wine bar. While it is work, and it will be two jobs, ultimately, it’s what I want to do in life.

WU: Tell us about your first experience with wine.
BB: People come to wine in all different ways. My father started getting into wine about a decade ago. I watched what he was drinking and was interested in what was becoming a hobby for him. About six years ago, a friend was given a bottle of 1995 Camyus Cabernet, and brought it to our house over on the Eastern Shore. It was like lightning in a bottle. That’s when it clicked in my head—this is something I’m going to be hooked on forever.

WU: How did you go from first trying that 1995 wine to where you are now in your knowledge of wine?
BB: Part of being a journalist and a news anchor is immersing yourself in subjects and learning all you can learn about it. I just decided I wanted to know anything and everything. Since that time, I’ve taken an introductory sommelier course in Washington, I’ve gone to the French Wine Society’s annual convention, which is a four-day, intense conference, and just immersed myself in the wine world.

WU: Do you have a favorite wine?
BB: I think you’re always kind of partial to your first love. So, Caymus Cabernet is probably my favorite. For me, personally, Rutherford in Napa Valley is sort of my Mecca. There’s something magical about that little spot of dirt.

WU: Does the name of the bar refer to the song?
BB: That was an inspiration. Our biggest gripe with the wine world is that it tends to be overwhelming, so pretentious, and intimidating. We are huge fans of wine and music. We felt like “Red Red Wine Bar” was a great nod to sort of a relaxed, comfortable, memorable, fun, enjoyable experience. It wasn’t pretentious; it was a wink and a nod.

WU: Whose idea was it to open the wine bar here?
Lisa Bolter: We lived in Baltimore before we moved here. We always kind of toyed with the idea and thought it would be a good addition to our neighborhood there. But it wasn’t really the right time. So when we moved here, we still had it in the back of our minds, and this seemed like the place for it.
BB: This is our neighborhood. We live just a few blocks from Main Street. We’re raising our family here, and we love the Main Street, downtown experience, and we recognized immediately that this was a niche that needed to be filled. It took us almost a year to get the right space. Main Street was important.
LB: At the time, it was when a lot of people were moving out of Main Street. It seemed like there was no reason we shouldn’t. If we’re going to open up a business in Annapolis, they needed people to move in instead of moving out.

WU: Brian, are you recognized a lot in public?
BB: If I wasn’t, I’d be worried. Having viewers introduce themselves to me on the street gives me a chance to connect in a personal way. And it means they’re watching! I’m extremely grateful to meet people who make it a point in their day to bring me into their homes. I never take that for granted.