Life & Style

Hear from Vera Wine’s partners in crime

It’s that time again where we’ll be taking you behind the scenes with our favourite local business owners and creatives to find out where they go to eat, what playlist they’re listening to, where they take their out-of-town friends, and ultimately, what makes them tick.

For our third installment of SPILL, we’re catching up with not one, but two individuals – Josh and Florence Distefano. 

spill josh and florence distefano vera wine vera wine forum hamilton newcastle nsw
Florence & Josh

The partnership behind Beaumont Street’s boutique wine shop, Vera Wine, and Newcastle’s only wine-dedicated space, Vera Wine Forum, take us on a journey of how they juggle running a business and a household together.

Where are you both from?

I grew up in Newcastle but moved to Melbourne in 2013 and Florence grew up in Melbourne.

What made you decide to make Newcastle home?

It had a lot to do with being closer to family. Having semi-retired grandparents helps a lot when you’ve got three young kids and a small business! But also, the lifestyle – being so close to the beach and nature.

Do you consider yourselves more so early birds or night owls?

I'm definitely the early bird, while Florence is the night owl.

What’s your morning ritual?

Get up and get the kids ready for school. After that it’s straight to CakeBoi for a coffee and then off to work.

What’s your coffee order?

We’re both simple coffee drinkers – small flat white please!

Speaking of coffee, which local venue knows your orders off by heart?

CakeBoi for sure! We’re pretty lucky that some of Newcastle’s best coffee and ANZAC biccies are just around the corner from the shop.

Tell me about your biggest career highlight… 

When the World’s 50 Best Restaurants were held in Melbourne in 2017, Florence was picked as one of Australia’s Best Young Sommeliers and had the opportunity to take some of the world’s best sommeliers around Australia and show them everything there is when it comes to the Australian wine scene.

For me, it’s probably working at Dinner by Heston (Blumenthal), and being exposed to some of the world’s greatest wines and working with one of the world’s best restaurant teams.

In your spare time, what are your THREE top favourite things to do in Newcastle? 

- Merewether Baths with the kids followed by running around the rock pools.
- Dining at some of our favourite restaurants – HUMBUG, Flotilla, and Harrison’s to name a few.
- Having friends over for an extravagant feast! There is not much I love more than spending the day in the kitchen. Loads of wine and great food – how good?

If you wanted to dazzle your out-of-town friends and family, where would you take them?

[Florence] Josh has his ‘famous’ driving tour of Newcastle, starting in Honeysuckle and finishing in Merewether. It’s a sure way to make our Sydney friends jealous and consider making the move up the highway.

Beer? Wine? Cocktail? Mocktail? What is your tipple of choice and where do you frequently visit? 

Funnily enough, spending your days studying and selling wine makes a beer very desirable at the end of the day. We love to go into Method Brewing or head over the road to our mates at Good Folk Brewing.

What do you NEVER leave the house without?

A wine knife! Who knows when you might need to open a bottle of wine.

We’re all about keeping it local here at HUNTERhunter – tell me THREE of your favourite local businesses that you live and breathe by and why you couldn’t live without them… 

Steph and Mike from HUMBUG – we absolutely love what those guys are doing. Steph’s super interesting wine list paired with Mike’s incredible food – it’s hard to go wrong.

Harrison’s – super humble and delicious food. Eating there feels so right. It’s like you’re sitting in Tony’s home dining room.

Equium Social – that’s a super special cafe. The food offering there is world-class, and the coffee program is one of the best in Newcastle. It’s always good to see different and interesting coffee varietals available there.

What’s your go-to playlist?

Cocktail hour on the Terrace – this is a playlist that we’ve got going on in the shop quite a bit. It’s got a good feel to it.

Lucky last, who would you recommend we interview next for SPILL?

Let’s get Steph and Mike from HUMBUG on!

Is there someone you would love for us to feature on SPILL? We’d love to hear from you!