“I always wanted to open a wine bar or winery, and thought if the stars aligned and I won a million dollars I would do it,” said Kristina Barbee. “Over the past few years, I just decided to find a way to make things happen instead of saying ‘if only.’”

Now, Ad Astra Wine Bar & Market has become the first phase of fulfilling that dream, and Barbee is finalizing a lease for 308 E. Adams in downtown Springfield. Ad Astra is a Latin phrase meaning “to the stars,” and Barbee said she chose the name because all of the difficulties and trials in life “have paved the path for my journey to the stars.”

Barbee said she knew she wanted to be downtown and had actually looked at the property on East Adams prior to COVID, before taking a step back when the pandemic temporarily put her plans on hold. Meanwhile, she continued to be involved in Downtown Springfield, Inc. and connect with others who were invested in the downtown area. “I found out that a wine bar is something the public has been wanting for years,” she said, and realized that her dream could help meet a need downtown.

“Ad Astra is going to be a small, intimate wine bar with a wine gift shop in the front,” Barbee explained. “Patrons can come in and enjoy a glass of wine at the bar, and then before they leave, they can purchase full bottles and items for a gift basket.” She said the market will also have charcuterie board items that can be enjoyed on site or purchased to-go.

The space has been vacant for years and is currently gutted, so Barbee said it will require extensive renovations and there is no projected opening date yet, although, “I would love to be open during the holiday season,” she said.