Non-alcoholic wines may be trending, but we'll stick to the real deal, thank you very much. Of course, we're also reaching for the good stuff—that is, the many new organic, biodynamic, additive-free wines that have emerged on the scene of late.
Natural wines keep getting better and better, and are at last getting their due in dedicated wine bars and shops around San Francisco, like the just-opened Key Klub, a Lower Nob Hill wine bar from proprietors Lalo Luevano and Paria Sedigh, of North Beach's Bodega.
The Bush Street wine bar takes its name from a 1950s bar of the same name, but the space has gotten a little refresh since then to accommodate for multiple intimate seating areas for drinking and dining on California-style brasserie fare. The best part: It's a totally unpretentious space for discovering natural wines by the glass and bottle.
"It’s never been about making the spaces feel too precious—that's not the wine experience we’re here to deliver," says Luevano, who says the most important thing is that "we carry wines that taste good."
"We want to allow customers to be themselves, be curious, try new wines, discover a new playlist, start conversations." Coming in spring, the cellar will also function as a shop filled with unique bottles.
Key Klub (850 Bush St.) is set to be be demolished at the end of its four-year lease. Check it out, along with more bars, restaurants, wine shops, and clubs with a strong focus on natural wines around San Francisco.
(Courtesy of Tofino Wines)
Wine Shops + Clubs
A Laurel Heights gem, Tofino Wines is an airy 2,500-square-foot space with high ceilings, large windows, and original terra cotta floors from the 1920s. In other words, a lovely space to enjoy a whole bunch of wine. The shop and bar stocks a careful selection of more than 1,200 natty wines from California, France, Italy, and Spain. Not sure where to start? Tofino hosts weekly tastings and events, and as well as rotating wines offered by the glass to pair with small bites in the bar (reopening in mid-February). Ask for the OMG—a hand-picked pet nat rosé from Austria's Andreas Gsellmann, available here for the first time in the U.S. // Open Tuesday through Sunday; 2696 Geary Boulevard (Lauren Heights), tofinowines.com
Gemini Bottle Co.
Regardless of your zodiac sign, you're going to want to check out Gemini Bottle Co. if you're on the hunt for an extensive selection of natural wines like the latest drop of cuvées from Sicilian winemaker Sergio Drago. This boutique's wine club is also not to be missed, with three different monthly options to choose from: $60 for two bottles, $110 for four bottles, or $110 for two exclusive, high-demand bottles. It's a great way to try some wines that might not be on your radar otherwise. Gemini also offers free tastings on Fridays from 5pm to 7pm. // Open daily; 2801 22nd St (Mission); geminibottlesf.com
From sommelier Dustin Wilson (who you may recognize from the documentary film Somm), Verve, which also has locations in NYC and Chicago, prides itself on "anti-snobbery service." The idea is to make discovering new wines an accessible experience for everyone. Stop by the sun-lit shop for a tasting, take home some bottles, or order for same-day delivery in SF. You can also join the wine club and get four bottles a month for $95. Looking for a great après-ski wine? Verve has recs. // Open Tuesday through Sunday; 2358 Fillmore St. (Pacific Heights), vervewine.com
Get natty wines delivered straight to your door with Unrooted. The SF-based online wine store sources exclusively from small and sustainable wineries to bring you 100 percent organic, non-GMO wines free of all the icky stuff. Buy any bottles you please, or sign up for the wine club ($109) to get four bottles along with tasting notes and pairing ideas. Because the founders believe that a wine tastes better when you know a bit about it, they also include education on each wine and stories about the winemakers. Gift subscriptions and holiday packs are also available. // unrootedwines.com
This Potrero Hill wine shop and bar keeps its focus on natural wines made by artisan producers. Go for a glass or a bottle ($10 corkage) to enjoy on the outdoor parklet, or join the wine club: You'll get two bottles for $50, four for $90, or two exclusive bottles for $100. Members will also receive 10 percent off retail purchases and and can skip the corkage fee. // Open daily; 1419 18th St. (Potrero Hill), rubywinesf.com
(Courtesy of @woodsbeer)
Bars + Restaurants
The swanky lounge above the Michelin-starred restaurant Mister Jiu's gets a lot of attention for its sultry interior and seasonal cocktails inspired by the Chinese Lunar Calendar, but the wine list is also notable for oenophiles looking for something natural to sip. Wine director Louisa Smith (also of Turntable at Lord Stanley) curates a selection of organic, biodynamic, natural vintages in nine by-the-glass options. // Open Wednesday through Saturday; 28 Waverly Pl. (Chinatown), moongatelounge.com
At the latest Italian restaurant from the Flour+Water team, trying natural wines has never been easier. Wine director Samuel Bogue (a 2019 Star Chefs Rising Star Sommelier) has organized the list into straightforward categories—think crisp whites, medium reds, and orange wines—with a selection of four natural and four classic wines each. If you find a bottle you like, you can take home an extra one at 50 percent off list. // Open for dinner daily; 3000 20th St. (Mission), pennyroma.com
Bar Part Time
If you've ever wanted to drink natural wines under a disco ball with some bumpin' tunes, then head over to Bar Part Time. Founders Justin Dolezal, Jeremy Castillo, and Dan Small made a name for themselves as SF wine party connoisseurs with their early 2020 pop-up at Mercury Cafe in Hayes Valley. Now they've opened a bottle shop and wine bar that transforms into a full-on nightly dance party complete with in-house DJs. Wine club members get three bottles a month for $99, plus 10 percent off all purchases at the bar. Put on your dancing shoes and forget that vodka Red Bull. // Open Tuesday through Saturday, 496 14th St (Mission), barparttime.com
Don't overlook the second half of this popular craft brewer's name. Their wines—including pet nats, a mourvedre, rosé of syrah, and more—are made with organic and biodynamic grapes, native yeast, minimal intervention, and no fining or filtration. They've even canned a select few of their wines: Try the 2020 skin-contact grüner veltliner and albariño blend for your next beach or park day. // Multiple locations in SF and coming soon to San Anselmo, woodsbeer.com