There’s a Brand New Wine Bar in Town! – Ona Belfort
Tomorrow, Friday April 14th, is the much-anticipated opening of the second ONA wine bar in Ghent, Belgium. ONA Belfort is located right in the city centre, close to city hall and the belfry, and – mark my words – it’s got everything and more to become one of Ghent’s brightest hotspots for wine lovers, enthusiasts and alike.
8 years ago, enthusiastic wine lovers, connaisseurs ánd entrepreneurs Ona Rombaut and Arne Braeckman opened their first wine bar in my home town Ghent, smack in the middle of the students’ quarter. If you’ve met them, you won’t be surprised that it quickly turned into a warm and welcoming wine hive for people of all ages – they’re both smart, warm-hearted and extremely likeable people.
We’ve known each other for a few years now, and our wine paths continue to cross – from having Ona and her dad Wim in my Sommelier-Conseil classes many years ago, to sharing wines – and worries – in our joint WSET Diploma journey. Arne and I graduated as DipWSET together, and Ona is well on her way to achieve it in the near future. It’s once again an exciting year for them: not only are they opening their second wine bar, they are weeks away from having their second baby, and just a few months ago, Ona was voted Belgium’s new Wine Lady of the Year, while Arne took first place for the province of East Flanders in the Sommelier of the Year competition.
One of the things I appreciate most about them: not only do they work hard to continually improve their own wine knowledge and tasting skills, they also invest in training and coaching their young, carefully selected team into a top-notch crew. All of them get the chance to take wine courses, and several have already obtained WSET qualifications up to level 3. From now on Ona and Arne will even be able to offer training in-house, because the new ONA Belfort venue has a dedicated tasting room / classroom in the cellars. Here they will be organising WSET classes in cooperation with our Benelux APP Winewise, alongside other courses and events.
But let’s talk wine – and a bit of food. What can you expect in both venues of ONA wine bar? First of all: wine, and lots of it. From very good affordable wines by the glass (or bottle), all the way up to the higher end of the wine spectrum. They have a preference for pure and authentic wines from equally passionate winemakers, and I can personally testify they are both excellent tasters, with an inquisitive, honest and open outlook on the wider world of wine.
During last night’s sneak preview before the grand opening this weekend, we already got to taste a few wines from their selection, and they only confirmed my expectations. From the creative choice of a delicious dry Lambrusco di Sorbara rosé as a welcome drink, to a pétillant naturel and the Cantalouette red blend (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec) by Château Tour des Gendres in Bergerac. And from one of our house favourites, Holass‘ Abeles rosé, to a truly lipsmacking Blaufränkisch by Weingut Ernst. Last but certainly not least: on their shelves I also spotted champagnes by Valentin Leflaive and the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo of one of my favourite Italian winemakers, Cristiana Tiberio. These alone should make it worth the detour! And if you’d happen to feel a bit peckish – ONA always has a selection of fine-quality nibbles at hand.
To summarise, what did I find at the new ONA wine bar?
✔️ a prime location in the city centre, just a minute’s stroll from city hall;
✔️ a beautiful, elegant building, tastefully renovated and refurbished with open, airy spaces as well as more intimate cosy corners, nooks and crannies;
✔️ a dedicated ‘underground’ tasting room and classroom for wine courses and events;
✔️ a great, warm and welcoming team;
✔️ an excellent and off-the-beaten-track wine selection, with a focus on pure and authentic wines from passionate winemakers;
✔️ top-quality nibbles & bites.
If you’re in the area, go show Ona, Arne and Team ONA some welcome-love and goodluck vibes, and hopefully we will meet there in the not-too-distant future! 🙂🥂
Belfortstraat 29, 9000 Gent
Nederkouter 71, 9000 Gent