From Napa to Livermore to Saratoga, wineries are located in virtually every area that surrounds San Francisco. So it’s no surprise that wine bars are on the rise in the city by the bay. Over the past few months three new noteworthy wine bars have opened up. Wondering where you can sip German riesling, French chablis, Argentinean rose, and Napa cabernet sauvignon? Here are three wonderful wine bars that you need to check out.
Flatiron Wines and Spirits
Flatiron Wines and Spirits opened in New York City a little over four years ago and the beloved Manhattan destination has finally set up shop on the west coast. Their new San Francisco outpost is downtown, next door to the famed Palace Hotel on the corner of New Montgomery and Jessie streets. With over 4,000 different bottles of alcohol, it’s twice as big as the New York location. If you’re looking for rare fine wine or a small producer from California, this is where you’re going to find it—as Flatiron specializes in these two categories. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable on all things wine and spirits. The tasting room is small, but chic with a wall of windows that look out onto the busy street. A dark wood table anchors the space, a map of Burgundy’s wine regions is on one wall and another has tan wood shelves with groupings of wine bottles, and an eye-catching chandelier, that looks like it was made out of upside down red wine glasses, hangs from the ceiling. A select menu of bites—oysters, truffle fries, cheese, ahi tartare, meatballs, and a burger—is available from the Palace Hotel’s kitchen. One of the great things about Flatiron is that they have interactive education events practically every day of the week. Interested in learning more about wines from ancient Greece? Want to sip wine with a legendary French producer or renowned Napa winemaker? Head to Flatiron for one of their tastings.
Pacific Heights was seriously lacking in wine bars—until last month when Scopo Divino opened on the corner of California and Divisadero. The wine bar, from first time restauranteur Tim Hayman, is unique because it has a membership component. Folks who live in the neighborhood should take advantage of the perks, which includes regular discounts on wine and take away bottles. Hayman wants local apartment dwellers to think of Scopo Divino as an extension of their living room—which is easy to do considering the cozy space and inviting atmosphere. There is a custom built alder wood bar with marble counter, plush oversized chairs and sofas in luxurious textiles, and pretty artichoke print wallpaper. Scopo Divino has a 1000 bottle library with an extensive selection from Burgundy and a focus on varietals that are a star of a specific region like bold cabernet sauvignon from Napa and Nebbiolo from Piedmont, Italy. 35 varietals are available by the glass and the offerings include everything from the well known Zinfandel to rarer finds such as Bobal. Chef Mark Cina (formerly of Monsieur Benjamin and Benu) has put together a perfect menu of wine bar snacks that includes the classic cheese and charcuterie, plus oyster on the half shell, addictive fried Castelvetrano olives, and crab hush puppies. Larger plates are offered as well with a decadent menu of lobster cavatelli, foe gras stuffed chicken thighs, and olive oil poached salmon. Delish!
Local wines and craft beers are on tap at SOMA’s newest bar de vino, Wine Down. A passion project from owners Sarah Garand and Jaimie Hiraishi, Wine Down originally started as a weekly happy hour that the two hosted at their old company, a sustainability-focused organization. When the event grew in size and popularity, the duo realized that the neighborhood lacked a casual cool spot where people could sip good wine. Two years later, Wine Down’s brick and mortar opened. The rotating selection of wine is displayed on an old-fashioned diner board and cheeky signs like ‘Drink Up!’ and ‘Make Out Nook’ in metallic gold letter are on the walls. The space is bright and white with a large J-shaped bar. Food items are simple, but scrumptious: a cheese and salami plate, pretzels with honey mustard, hummus with warm flatbread, and a variety of vegetarian empanadas.