Gone are the days of the dark, murky wine bar with stale bread chips and music you wouldn’t be caught dead listening to anywhere else.
Say goodbye to the vineyards you were too intimidated to visit. Start welcoming the labels that care about good drinking just as much as they care about good karma with mother earth. We’ve rounded up the where and the what of all things wine in the Bay Area. Our list is modest, so as not to scare you off. But trust us, we’ve outlined quite a lush trip, from SF to Napa and back around again.
Bars + Storefronts
Ruby Wine is funky and authentic and that’s only the start of why we love it so dearly. Dropping in for wine here feels a lot like visiting your super chic, chill friend with impeccable taste that has traveled the world and slept with rockstars and artists and maybe also has a micro vineyard growing in her bathroom. Super vivid image, huh? Our point is, this spot is groovy without being pretentious. Wine is poured freely and lovingly. And if you befriend the bartender, he might show you pictures of his adorable niece. Not that we did that or anything. // 1419 18th Street, Potrero Hill; rubywinesf.com
A Tenderloin gem sandwiched between the former Huxley and a connivence store, Tender is a no frill-type of bar and we enjoy it as such. With hearty pours on tap plus very full cheese plate options, we love to lounge this in this tiny yet mighty space. Pro-tip: you may not know it but their upstairs lounge has even more seating and comfy love seats for prime date spot sitting. The owner and manager of the space are normally your bartenders so get to know their story and also as a treat, if you happen to saunter there on Monday (their closed day), you'll get to enjoy a beautiful mural of the late-and-great, Bubbles. // 854 Geary St, Tenderloin, tendersf.com.
We’re tired of hearing how you hate the Marina. We get it. Yawn. Now give it another chance and rejoice at the opportunity to breath in air that doesn’t wreak of pee and damp asphalt. While you’re at it, stop by Nectar for an entire bottle of wine shared amongst friends. Pre-dinner or post-dinner (or any time of day, really), you won’t regret a couple hours spent at this cozy spot on Steiner and Chestnut. // 3330 Steiner Street, Marina District; nectarwinelounge.com
No wine tour is complete without a trip to 20 Spot in the Mission. Probably the best "couch" spot you'll find on this list, 20 Spot's list of wines change monthly with in-season blends coming to SF and ones that are archival. Though, to get the most bang for your buck, we suggest buying two bottles all together as to not go crazy with glass after glass. And if you're getting too turnt on the lush wines, the wine bar also comes with a fully stocked kitchen of light bites (bread, cheese, and meat) to actual plates (Poke, Avocado toasts, and Tuna tartar.) // 3565 20th St, Mission; 20spot.com.
Tofino and Bob Cut go way back. We hosted our Issue 5 launch party here, so clearly we’re biased. Why do we love it? It has enough space to saunter around with a crystal wine glass while exploring enough perfectly-curated bottles to make your head spin. The charcuterie plates—while a bit on the pricey side— never disappoint (can we get a woot woot for soft, warm bread.) The exposed tile and overall design of this place will offer you some serious good vibes (as if the wine wasn’t also delivering on that front). // 2696 Geary Blvd, Laurel Heights; tofinowines.com
A walk down Valencia is a food and beverage crawl to rival any other, and a stop on this tour absolutely must be Mission Cheese. With a wine list to please most (and likely all), this spot steps into true winning territory with the array of cheeses offered. They even have a top-notch beer selection for the grape disinclined. (But enough of that, this guide isn’t for you.) // 736 Valencia Street, Mission District; missioncheese.net
Striking a balance between wine shop and wine bar, Ordinaire has been hailed as a true gem on a large scale. The bar has been named on Esquire’s Best Bars in America list multiple times, and entices a variety of wine lovers with its laid back vibe tempered by their true devotion to natural wine curation. // 3354 Grand Ave, Oakland; ordinairewine.com
From east to west coast, Verve Wine is an authority on the wine scene for those that want a little whimsy in their pour. With a fun, welcoming wine club at a relatively modest price point and a selection of wines from all over the globe, Verve seeks to educate without overloading its customers. In the shop, you’ll find hardcore winos and those that lightly dabble in the rosé field, and that’s why we love it. // 2358 Fillmore Street, Pacific Heights; vervewine.com
West + Wilder
At Bob Cut we lean to the outdoorsy side, but we also enjoy the finer things in life. With minds like those at West + Wilder, thankfully we never have to forego one love for another. You can camp and have your rosé too. (Isn’t that how the saying goes?) It’s like drinking a fine bottle of wine, only separated into eco-friendly, gorgeously packaged cans. Meaning you’ll never have to feen for wine on your adventures. Be that a celebratory chug after climbing (and safely descaling) El Capitan or simply guzzling rosé on your roof in North Beach, West + Wilder is making dreams possible. We’re big fans, or have we not made that clear? // Find out more at westandwilder.com
Deeply devoted to their craft for over forty years, the folks at Turnbull give a care about the winemaking process in each and every stage. Make a trip to wine country and wander the grounds of their Oakville estate (open five days a week) or splurge on the finer things by becoming a member of Turnbull, gaining access to estate events and wine cases shipped directly to your home. With grounds so beautiful and wine of exceptional caliber, we can’t imagine you’ll regret the decision. // 8210 St Helena Highway, Oakville; turnbullwines.com
Isabella Welch is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in history. Her writing has been featured in history journals, travel blogs, as well as her own site, New Carthage. Director of Editorial & Creative Development at Bob Cut Mag, lover of stories and tinto de verano, she’s usually found wandering the Headlands.