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.
What sets Ordinaire apart? Candlelight. (And also a playful sense of humor.) This beautiful, rustic shop, opened on Grand Avenue in 2012, makes for a romantic date or relaxing hang time with a close friend. You can sample wine on tap, buy a glass or bottle, and pair it with a cheeseboard and other small plates. Ordinaire focuses on wines made from organic grapes, with no additives and little to no sulfur, and owner Bradford Taylor is pretty excited about them: "We love pouring these eclectic and surprising wines in a laid-back environment," he says. "We are happy to discuss each wine at length, or just let you slam a few glasses while waiting for takeout down the street." His goal is for visitors to leave both with a greater understanding of wine as an agricultural product, as well as with a buzz and a damn good bottle they can't wait to share with friends.
Bottle du jour: Casot de Mailloles Soula ($45)
"All Grenache grown on a steep slate cliff overlooking the Mediterranean. It channels all the warmth of the South (of France), but with the salty freshness of the sea. It's a longtime favorite, but particularly beautiful this year. About 10 cases come to California."
// 3354 Grand Ave. (Grand Lake), ordinairewine.com
This article has been updated since it was originally published in May 2017.