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.
Minimo has it all: beautiful design, helpful employees, and a selection of small-production natural wines, mostly from California and Europe, that work for all budgets (there's a big selection under $20). Proprietors Erin Coburn and Sarah Miller strive to showcase up-and-coming talent, and especially women winemakers. "Our inspiration for opening the shop was to create an accessible and engaging experience for customers to learn the stories behind small independent wineries who believe in the importance of sustainable farming practices," says Coburn. We love the rotating themed flights, composed of three wines the ladies are currently crushing on, served up on Wednesday evenings and all day on Saturdays. Stop by for a tasting or pop a bottle (sans corkage) at the long communal table inside the store in Jack London Square.
Bottle du jour: Mendo Benchlands
"It's a blend of nero d'avola and zinfandel sourced from Mendocino, and it's filled with a medley of delicious fresh berries and wild herbs," Coburn says. Winemaker Martha Stoumen "is a rising star in California's natural wine movement, sourcing fruit from sustainably farmed vineyards and making her wines with little intervention. We love everything she's done so far!"
Minimo hosts countless winemaker tastings and special events—think book signings and even yoga classes. Keep watch for upcoming events on their site.
// 420 Third St. (Jack London Square), minimowine.com
This article has been updated since it was originally published in May 2017.