We're spoiled with good grapes around here, and we know a thing or two about vino. Yet, the whole wine tasting experience can sometimes make you feel like a tool. Happily, a new generation of bottle shops is popping in Oakland, where welcoming proprietors and neighborhood vibes encourage you to browse, taste, learn, open a bottle, and stay much longer than you intended.
We recently made our way around the wine shops of Oaktown and hit upon five distinct shops that are disrupting the wine buying experience. What they share in common is a focus on natural wines, highly curated selections, and owners who care about the stories behind every bottle on their shelves. We left each of these—bottle in hand—happy, informed, and with a healthy buzz, and we're sure you will, too. Treat yourself to a nice bottle—it is rosé season, after all.
Oakland Yard is a lively store in the heart of Temescal that prides itself on serving wines with integrity, made honestly without chemicals or pesticides or any of the other "weird shit" that often goes into wine. Owners Max Davis and Daniel Schmidt look for "dynamic, small-production wines that are balanced and expressive. Wines that have some real energy," Schmidt says, and waxes on: "There are a lot of shitty homogenized wines still being sold out there. Max and I have a preference for refreshing, lively wines, and, for the most part, we are looking for wines that are ready to be consumed as soon as you are ready to pop that cork. I hated going to shops when I was younger and [getting] pushed to buy some wound-up, tannic Bordeaux and to 'lay it down for 10 years, blah blah.' I get it. It's just not how I want to roll, and not how folks I meet and talk to and listen to and drink with do either. I like when wines are fun, maybe even surprisingly so. And again, above all, delicious. We like wines that are delicious." Which is perfect, because we also like wines that are fun and delicious! Oakland Yard does tastings on Thursdays and Sundays. You can always order a glass of one of the few wines they have open, or pop a bottle of your choosing with a $5 corkage fee.
Bottles du jour:
Schmidt is loving Aupo, Pipeno: "I'm drinking a lot of lighter, chillable reds. This is a super affordable, crazy delicious wine (just $12) by Vina Maitia, made from 120-year-old dry farmed vines in Chile. It's juicy, dry, youthful, and fresh—completely delightful for easy drinking by the lake or picnicking in Mosswood Park."
Davis is digging Marc Ollivier's Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet: "My go-to wine because its bracing acidity is lively and fresh, and the wine's salty, stony mineral flavors make it both thirst-quenching and appetizing."
Swing by and say hi to the guys during the 40th Street Block Party on July 14th, 11am to 5pm.
// 420 40th St. (Temescal), oaklandyardwineshop.com
This article has been updated since it was originally published in May 2017.