Natural wines are the answer to the genuine expression of what wine should be. Touted as a current trend, it is actually how wine-making began - low-intervention, high-enjoyment bottles made with little to no additives. Naked, raw, or natural, call them what you will - this style of winemaking produces wine in its most native form.
Natural winemaking is a generalized movement among winemakers for the production of wine using simple or traditional techniques. There is no uniform definition of natural wine, it is usually wine being made without the use of pesticides or herbicides and with few or no additives. Generally, the natural winemakers handpick their grapes instead of using machines to harvest them.
The naturally fermented grape juice is made without any sulfites. This is often called “zero-zero”, referring to the lack of added or removed sulfites during the winemaking process, along with the minimal techniques used to ensure a certain style of the final product. Since most of these winemakers are the farmers themselves, they do not manipulate the wine with chemical additives or employ physical corrective processes or concentrate on the marketing and promotional side of their products. They believe in the goodness of what they are producing and want to bring it forth for people to enjoy.
These wine bars and restaurants in the Bay Area are some of the best stewards of natural wine, introducing and proudly showing off what is the best in the world of natural wines.
Ordinaire Wine Shop & Wine Bar
Ordinaire Wine Bar, source: Facebook
Ordinaire is a wine bar, wine shop, and bistro-style restaurant located on Grand Avenue in the Grand Lake District. They only sell natural wine that is produced from organic grapes with minimal chemical and technological intervention. The owner Bradford Taylor encourages the learning of natural winegrowing and winemaking practices, with a focus on small-production wines from Europe and California. He is also an organizer of an annual natural wine festival in Oakland called Brumaire, which has held events at the Ordinaire.
Where - 3354 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
The Punchdown, source: Facebook
The Punchdown is a stylish, upscale wine bar located just above 19th street in downtown Oakland. It features an extensive by-the-glass list distinguished not only by color but by flavor profile. The list which is presided by the wife-and-husband owners Lisa Costa and DC Looney is thoughtful and encourages tasting flights. The tasting flights are tastings of multiple wines that allow the patron to get a feel for the breadth and depth of the wines and usually intended for those new to the experience of tasting wine, or those who want to increase their knowledge of a specific region, varietal or vintage. The Punchdown has also a small but significant bottle shop on-site with well-priced rarities.
Where - 1737 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Minimo, source: Facebook
Minimo, an Italian word for minimal, is a wine bar and shop located in Jack London Square. Minimo is a neighborhood wine shop that focuses on small-production natural wine and cider. As the name implies, it reflects on their commitment to minimal-intervention wines: minimal in the field and minimal in the bottle. Dedicated to building a community of people passionate about wines regardless of expertise level, the space has a shared long table which is perfect for a group or for sharing a bottle with new friends. Biweekly winemaker tastings offer an opportunity for education. Furthermore, they support independent and family-owned wineries and promote wineries that follow sustainable practices in their farming, winemaking, sourcing, and workforce. A true believer in socially and environmentally responsible business.
Where - 420 3rd St, Oakland, CA 94607
Verjus, source: Facebook
Michael & Lindsay Tusk created this Euro-cool wine bar, bistro, and bottle shop. It is a neighborhood spot in the heart of downtown San Francisco’s Jackson Square. Alongside organic produce from their own Fresh Run Farm, managing partner Matt Cirne maintains the French-leaning wine list. Their passion for food and wine extends to their support of small-scale and independent growers who farm organically and make wines with minimal additives. You can join their VerjusVivants wine club to receive selections of the most intriguing and dynamic bottles each month.
Where - 528 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94111
Moongate Lounge, source: Facebook
Moongate Lounge is entering the Chinatown scene with dim sum and cocktails served in a posh lounge. Drinks are based on the Chinese lunar calendar and the wine list is dedicated solely to wines grown organically or biodynamically, with no additions in the wine other than little to no sulfur. Bottles range from $40 to $60 and there is a “bottle service” offered for hard-to-find or very expensive liquors available by the ounce.
Where - 28 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108
Tofino Wines, source: Instagram
Tofino Wines is a San Francisco retail wine merchant and bar. It is a big, airy place that houses 1200 plus wines from Spain, Italy, Austria, France, and the US. Owners April Sack and Mark Nevin are wine industry lifers who share a love for teaching customers about the ins and outs of natural winemaking techniques. They also offer a wine-friendly food menu executed by Chef Josh Even including items such as olives, cheese, and more.
Where - 2696 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118
Terroir Natural Wine Bar, source: Facebook
Terroir is one of the oldest spots in the Bay Area’s natural wine scene. From the very start, they have concentrated their short by-the-glass list and large cellar on biodynamic, 00 wines from the old world, mainly from France.
Where - 1116 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103