Book + Bottle: The Perfect Blend


Ellie Miller

I asked her what the perfect book/wine combo was at Book + Bottle, to which she replied, “anything bubbly, like champagne and new literary fiction.” 

When I walked into Book + Bottle on a chilly Thursday afternoon, a bustling group of customers, an aroma of books, and sweet-smelling wines welcomed me. Founded by Terra Dunham (an SPHS grad), Book + Bottle is a women-led, independent coffee cafe and wine bar on 6th Street North, just off Central Avenue. Opened just three days before Florida’s official lockdown, Book + Bottle has overcome potential business-ending obstacles and emerged as one of St. Pete’s best local bookstores/coffee shops. It’s like a little slice of SoHo, tucked between a floral shop and a quaint boutique. I was lucky enough to interview Dunham on her experience as the founder of this shop and her unique road to its opening. 

Dunham has always been a big reader. She has always loved food. Living in Colorado, minutes from BookBar – another book/wine bar – she became immediately inspired. When she moved back to St. Pete, she began making this dream a reality. Then, before she knew it, it was time to open… the week of March 18th, 2020. Opening a new independent business while the entire world scurried away into their homes was a particular inconvenience. However, Dunham and the rest of the crew at Book + Bottle knew “they needed to continue” because everything they had worked for had “built up to this moment.” To stay afloat during this time, they began delivering books and wine to customers to their door and sold items on their online store. “This was a period of constant stress,” says Dunham. However, once doors opened again, the business started becoming the St. Pete classic that it is today. 

Dunham earned her BA in Anthropology at Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at Harvard University. Growing up an atheist, she has always been curious about the world around her. Studying anthropology led her to develop an interest in religious studies. From there, she worked at a publishing company bringing in many spiritual books. Dunham believes her path to success in entrepreneurship may have been a road of many twists and turns, but “everything [she has] done has led her to this.”

Having run a successful business for three years, Dunham has learned much about entrepreneurship. Dunham believes business owners must be “a jack of all trades” as they “have to do everything themselves.” She encourages her team at Book + Bottle to pursue their passions and incorporate them into the business. For example, a few months ago, Book + Bottle created a series of wines that corresponded with Gilmore Girls characters. Having never seen the show (a true crime in my books), Dunham saw how that brought new interests and demographics of customers into the store. Dunham shared that running Book + Bottle has reduced her reading time. Now, she has time to read primarily business books. However, her favorite is The Golden Compass by Phillips Goldman. I asked her what the perfect book/wine combo was at Book + Bottle, to which she replied, “anything bubbly, like champagne and new literary fiction.” 

All in all, Book + Bottle is the Shop Around The Corner of St. Pete. The perfect mix of the bookish Rory Gilmore and elegant Emily Gilmore. Dunham’s journey to opening Book + Bottle has been tricky, but the result is well worth it.