Melbourne-born Simon Denman is Co-Owner and Director of Melbourne inner-north darlings Neighbourhood Wine, Old Palm Liquor and Bahama Gold, which he operates alongside his work and life partner, chef Almay Jordaan. Known amongst the industry as one of the most proliﬁc wine buyers in Melbourne, Denman embodies a warm and casual style of hospitality, along with an abundance of wine knowledge and restaurant experience gained living and working across Australia, and internationally in London and Cape Town.
Denman’s knowledge and passion for wine was sparked by a stint spent as a sales assistant in a wine store in Brisbane while completing his studies in business management at the University of Queensland. He quickly accelerated his craft working internationally in London as a sommelier and supervisor at a local wine bar. After a brief return to Melbourne he took another sommelier and supervisor role under the renowned South African chef, Pete Goffe-Wood in Cape Town, where he developed his skill in management and his love of wine sourcing.
Returning to Melbourne in 2011, Simon executed his dreams of owning his own venue in 2013, with the opening of French-European wine bar, Neighbourhood Wine in Fitzroy North with Almay Jordaan. The restaurant’s success led the pair to open two additional food and wine-focused venues in Brunswick – Old Palm Liquor in 2019 and Bahama Gold in 2022.
With experience in various front of house roles including cocktail bartender, restaurant duty manager, sommelier and wine buyer, Simon has established a foundation of knowledge across many elements of the food and beverage industry, with a speciality in the trade of emerging lo-ﬁ wines. The breadth of work Simon has completed developed his greater love and appreciation for diversity in hospitality experiences, with an overarching philosophy of locality, minimal intervention and maximal ﬂavour.
Currently, Simon acts as the Direction of all three venues, with a particular focus on beverages, including curating the venues’ eclectic wine lists, sourcing pairings that are well-cellared and match moments perfectly. The success of the seasonality and simplicity approach in his venues are an ode to his simple service style, and dedication to excellence.