Costa’s Wine Cafe was once one of the best-known landmarks in Wodonga. It was near the corner of High Street and Lawrence, across the road from where the water tower was later built.
Mr Bernardo Costa came to Australia from Switzerland, arriving in Sydney in 1857, and with several companions, and in the space of three weeks, walked to Beechworth/Yackandandah where he started in the boot trade. In 1882 he moved to Wodonga and conducted his boot sale and repair business. He applied for a wine license in December 1886.
In 1908 B Costa advertised that he had rebuilt his premises, which “affords the best and most comfortable accommodation to the travelling public”. For a while it was known as Wodonga Swiss Wine Cafe.
After Bernardo’s death in 1915 the wine cafe and accommodation at the rear was run by his three daughters, Annie, Angela and Gertrude.
In 1941 the Misses Costa sold their business and freehold to Mrs J Adams, who died just six years later. It was then run by her son Pat Adams, and after his demise his wife ran the business.
Frank Walsh was running it as Walsh’s Wine Cafe by 1951.
Until the inauguration of the standard railway gauge in 1962, the accommodation was used almost exclusively by railway workers. Train crews would come up from Melbourne, make for the wine cafe for bed and breakfast, then take the next day’s train back to Melbourne.
The wine cafe was closed in 1963 having been purchased by Woolworths, and was demolished to build their new supermarket on the site.
Over the 72 years that the cafe existed it was estimated that hundreds of thousands of gallons of wines, of all kinds, were sold there. A big proportion of this came from Albury cellars. Apart from drinking in the bar, which was nearly always crowded while mates had a glass or two of local vintage, the customers over the years took home their favourite varieties in bottles and flagons, or brought in their demijohns for a refill from the bulk supplies available.