PRESS & AWARDS
fit for a kingdom
Alain & Christine Bras love what they do!!
Alain loves all things wine related and Christine loves all things about cards. They marry them together and both are happy to integrate each other’s passion and pass it onto you.
Research, travel, sourcing, tasting, ever learning and supplying the best is what they strive to do.
“We do our best so you get the very best”
Here in this section you can see some of the press coverage and awards they have received over the years.
front page news
Sat, Jul 1, 2006
'Fortune' magazine has named it as one of the world's best retirement spots, but you don't have to be old to move to Kenmare. Philip Watson meets some of the quality-of-lifers who have made the Kerry town their home.
ALAIN BRAS, SHOPKEEPER
Alain Bras was born and raised in the Aveyron region of southern France. In 1984 he became restaurant manager at Whites on the Green, in Dublin; then, in 1987, he set up his own restaurant, De La Fontaine, in Limerick. He began visiting Kenmare regularly on holiday and says he was instantly drawn to the look and feel of the town.
"I liked the combination of Kenmare being a cleverly laid-out heritage town surrounded by incredibly beautiful and rugged countryside," he says. "I was also attracted to the happy cocktail of proud local people and the many foreigners who had settled here. It seems to create a town with an extraordinarily open mind in which visitors are welcomed."
After his marriage broke up, in 1993, he started to look for work in Kenmare, becoming the sommelier at Sheen Falls Lodge two years later. He worked at the five-star hotel for seven years, and in 2004 he represented Ireland in the World Sommelier Championship in Athens (he finished in the top 10).
Leaving to teach a restaurant and wine course at Shannon College of Hotel Management, in Co Clare, he lasted only three months. He couldn't stand spending the week away from Kenmare and his fiancee, Christine, whom he had met in the town. "It was a very good job, but being away from Kenmare made me realise that it's truly special and that I could not give it up."
Bras and Christine now live in a four-bedroom house on a new estate on the edge of town and have a one-year-old son named Oisín (Bras also has three teenage daughters from his first marriage).
Last year they opened an attractive wine and greetings-card shop in Kenmare named Vanilla Grape (12 Henry Street; 064-40694). Situated in a building owned by Christine's family, and previously a general grocery shop, the space had stood empty for 16 years - ever since, in fact, Christine's mother, Joan O'Sullivan, had retired. The new shop sells an impressive and discerning range of wines, coffee, cigars, handmade chocolates, and cards, and it makes good use of the original wooden counter and shelves. It has, Christine says, brought a new lease of life to the shop and to the family, who continue to live above the premises. "There's a wonderful spirit and buzz of activity about the place again, and my mother is in great form altogether," she says. There was also great goodwill towards the couple when the shop opened. "We received messages of support and good luck, presents, flowers even," says Bras. "There's a soul to this town that is not just about the originality of its design and beautiful setting. It's down to the locals, the genuine community spirit."