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a person walking in front of a shelf of wine bottles
The impressive wine collection at Wine on Water.

Wine on Water: Uncorking the Essence of Tampa’s Vinous Adventure

Embark on a vinous journey at Wine on Water, where sommelier Jen Bingham curates an exquisite collection, inviting patrons to explore a world of wines, from classic Beaujolais to avant-garde orange pinot gris.

By Janette Flavell
Photos by Adrian O’Farrill

Strolling down Water Street Tampa, you might just breeze past Wine on Water, nestled snugly between Yura Vine and Small Giant. But once you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing sight: rows upon rows of meticulously selected bottles and a library ladder that wouldn’t be out of place in Belle’s sanctuary from Beauty and the Beast. This is a place that’s impossible to forget, especially after you’ve indulged in a tantalizing tasting.

The mastermind behind this vinous oasis, the sommelier extraordinaire, is Jen Bingham. With open arms, she invites people from all walks of life to share in the discovery of new, intriguing bottles. Bingham’s love affair with the greater Tampa Bay Area began with her brainchild, Cru Cellars, which she co-owns with husband Torrey. They set sail on this voyage in 2010, and it has since burgeoned into a haven of exciting concepts, including Wine on Water.

a shelf of wine bottles
a building with glass windows

“We’re absolutely smitten with our spot on Water Street,” Bingham exclaims. “I’ll never forget the moment we peeled the paper off our windows back in February, and I gazed out at the neighborhood. It was the realization of our dream come to vibrant life.”

This new establishment houses over 200 styles of fermented grape juice, spanning the spectrum from Beaujolais to orange (skin-contact) pinot gris—guaranteed to tantalize every palate.

In her early 20s, Bingham embarked on a life-changing journey to Australia, where her passion for wine was kindled. She traversed through countless wineries, and it was there that she found the spark that ignited her passion. Today, she has turned that passion into a thriving career, dedicated to exploring and celebrating the world of varietals.

Recalling her early days in the wine world, working at a Chicago hotel, Bingham reminisces, “I was at a wine bar on Michigan Ave, and I couldn’t help but think: hotels come with a lot of red tape. I knew I could create a more intimate, spirited experience.”

Jen Bingham, Sommelier extraordinaire and owner of Wine on Water, Small Giant + more.
a sign on a building
The sign for Wine on Water.

In 2009, Bingham made her way to Florida with dreams of bringing her wine shop vision to life. The following year, she opened Cru Cellars, a space where people could embark on a journey of wine exploration in a fun and low-pressure way.

It was this initial vision that gave birth to her other thriving concepts. Bouzy in Hyde Park welcomes guests to a warm, bubbly champagne and cocktail bar, offering exquisite cuvées and caviar alongside Michel Forget’s Brut Champagne. Meanwhile, Small Giant, her “little bar” and restaurant “with a big heart” concept located just a stone’s throw from Wine on Water, provides a cozy haven where patrons can savor thin-crust, Columbus-style pizza and unwind after a long day’s toil.

But wine is Bingham’s true passion, and she’s an open book when it comes to sharing her love. “When we talk about old-world wineries, we have to remember that these vineyards have been lovingly tended to for generations. They’ve been the lifeblood of these small families, handed down through the ages. That’s where it all begins for me.”

Bingham elaborates on her quest for sustainability and quality as she and her team curate a collection that’s refreshingly new, harmonious, and exhilarating for guests and customers.
At Wine on Water, both locals and visitors are treated to a direct somm-to-guest experience, along with weekly events like the Wine Divvy. Every Monday, patrons handpick a bottle, grab a glass, take a seat on the patio, savor their wine, connect with fellow enthusiasts, and then delve into another guest’s selection. The shop boasts an extensive array of unique bottles, offering a gateway to explore myriad wine regions.

a shelf with bottles of alcohol

“Over the last thirteen years in the world of wine, we’ve showcased everything from small-batch wonders to organic, biodynamic gems,” Bingham reflects. “These artisanal family wineries and their unwavering dedication to their craft have left an indelible mark on the industry in the past five years. It’s astonishing to witness the prolific influence of these artisans and how they’re changing the game.”