Yearning for a NorCal wine country experience without the harvest season traffic and crowds? There’s a bounty of urban wine tasting experiences, right here in the city or just a short ferry ride away to the East Bay. Read on for our favorite spots.
Pac Heights / Fillmore / Japantown gems:
- The Wine Jar on fashionable Fillmore Street offers cozy-yet-chic neighborhood charm just two blocks from the Buchanan Hotel. Guests are also welcome to reserve complimentary perks that include their preferred two glasses of wine and a cheese plate, redeemable at this wine bar at any time from bottle pop till the doors lock.
- The Social Study has gained local acclaim for its quirky, quaint atmosphere and thoughtful variety of varietals which includes an addictive sparkling sake. They also offer straightforward edible delights such as their Cuban sliders and house-made strawberry bread pudding.
- Just around the corner from there, Fat Angel offers more elegance than its location might suggest. Edging into the grittier part of the Fillmore district where jazz and rock take root most nights of the week at the nearby Boom Boom Room and The Fillmore itself, this bar serves up a wide variety of wines from near and far. Offerings include wines on tap, a housemade Pimm’s drink, plenty of delicious beers — and everything from a kale salad to spicy mac to accompany them!
Urban Wine Reconnaissance:
- Retreat from the touristy hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Wharf and duck into the Winery Collective for fascinating wines and knowledgeable wine nerds to explain their wares.
- Also near the waterfront, check out Wattle Creek Winery at Ghirardelli Square. Insider tip: grab some of their Ghiradelli’s famous chocolate squares at a local Walgreens to skip the confectioner’s lines, and enjoy some great reds and whites right here instead. At WCW, you can choose from a taste, a flight, or even a full bottle (ahem) to enjoy with a picnic at the adjacent Aquatic Park, where the views of the Golden Gate Bridge, historic ships, small crescent beach, and Alcatraz Island will overwhelm you in the best possible way.
East Bay Adventures:
- For those who really adore the San Francisco Bay and might enjoy an easy thirty-minute ferry boat cruise under the Bay Bridge and over to the intriguing Port of Oakland, book a ticket aboard the San Francisco Bay Ferry to Jack London Square. This up-and-coming waterfront district of Oakland offers tasty wine tasting at the new Rosenblum Cellars location, as well as Cerruti Cellars and Urban Legend.
- Guests with more time to burn must stop at Hanger One distillery along the way at Alameda Island. Their spirits tour and tasting will leave you both smarter and dumber, guaranteed. Be sure to check ferry schedules carefully so you don’t miss the proverbial boat, and then consider a cocktail or dinner at Haven or Forge to round out the day. Still thirsty? The micro-mini bar aboard the ferry home will hook you up with some great local wine and beer to enjoy as the sun sets.
Where to stay: For hassle-free tasting, the Kimpton Buchanan in San Francisco will satisfy all your oenophile urges within steps, strolls, and seafaring vessels. Cheers!
— Emily Glick, General Manager for the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel