Meet Decant SF, a new one-stop wine destination in SoMA
A new wine bar, retail shop and self-proclaimed “social learning space” is opening May 1 in the former City Beer Store location in SoMa. Decant SF “will be whatever you want it to be,” says co-owner Simi Grewal: a happy hour stop, an event venue, a personalized sommelier portal — and more.
Co-owner Cara Patricia was drawn to “the idea of a wine shop where you can also stay and enjoy a bottle,” she says. “When I moved to San Francisco I was amazed that did not really exist here,” acknowledging Tofino Wines as an exception. (The new Verjus, too, fits the bill, as do a number of East Bay shops like Bay Grape and Minimo.)
Designed by San Francisco firm Roy, the walls of the 1,800-square-foot space will be lined with wine shelves. “The wall is the wine list,” Patricia says. Grab a bottle to take home, or for a corkage fee — $12 if the bottle is under $75, or $8 if it’s over — grab one of Decant SF’s 26 seats and open it up. While there’s no kitchen, snacks like cheese, charcuterie and caviar will be available both to-go and (for a small plating fee) for here, presented with accoutrements like mostarda and creme fraiche.
Or you can order from a selection of eight wines by the glass — which will always feature a Sherry. Glass pours on the opening list range from $10 to $18 and include a Merlot blend from Domaine Isle Saint Pierre in the Rhone ($10), a Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc from Cep ($15) and a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, Clos du Midi ($18) from Arnaud Lambert (formerly known as Chateau de Breze).
Patricia and Grewal, who became friends while studying wine at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, are both experienced sommeliers. Patricia’s resume includes stints at Saison and Hakkasan; Grewal has worked at Birba and the Village Pub in Woodside.
They’re hoping to build a sense of community at Decant SF through events, weekly tastings and by keeping track of customers’ buying histories in order to provide personalized suggestions. Plus they’re offering numerous themed wine clubs at several different price levels, each designed to meet a different sort of wine drinker’s needs. The “self-care pack,” for example, at $69 a month, will feature two bottles of wine plus, Patricia says, a “self-care treat that could include anything from an oracle card to a face mask to palo santo,” a fragrant South American wood believed by some to be sacred.
“It’s not a gendered box by any means, but it’s definitely about: Have a half bottle of wine, get in the bath, just enjoy your life, just enjoy yourself,” Patricia says of the self-care pack. “Have a bottle of rosé with your friends and do face masks.”
The pair is employing an unorthodox sourcing strategy. “We are looking for very value-driven bottles that still uphold typicity,” says Grewal. “Part of the way we’re doing that is we’re going to be blind tasting all of our wines.” They’ve already told their distributors’ sales representatives to arrive with their wines already in brown bags; they don’t want to be tasting with preconceived notions. “At the end of the day, we really want our guests to trust that we are bringing things to them that are worth what they’re spending,” she says.
Decant SF’s slogan, according to Patricia: Drink for yourself. “It’s not about drinking what wines are trending on Instagram, what someone at the cool new restaurant says you’re supposed to be drinking,” she continues. “It’s about you deciding what you love.”
Decant SF: 1168 Folsom St., S.F.; 415-913-7256 or www.decantsf.com. Opens May 1. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tues-Thurs, noon to 10 p.m. Fri-Sat, noon to 8 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon.
Inside DecantSF, a Sweet New SoMa Wine Bar and Bottle Shop Serving value-driven wines in a chic new space
Advanced sommelier Cara Patricia and certified sommelier Simi Grewal are bringing their considerable expertise to the retail side of the wine business with a new bottle shop and wine bar called DecantSF. Their SoMa space opens on May 1 for wine shopping, by the glass pours, and grab-it-yourself snacks like cheese, caviar, and tinned fish.
“We wanted make sure that people can use us the way they want,” says Patricia. “You can come in and buy a wheel of cheese and six pack of beer and a bottle of wine and bounce — or you can come in and open them up and enjoy us as a wine bar as well.”
Customers might (just barely) recognize the DecantSF space as the former home of City Beer Store, which relocated to a larger location nearby. “It was really dark, and it was pretty masculine and industrial,” recalls Hannah Collins of designer studio ROY. “That was not the direction they wanted their space to feel.” Instead, Collins and company added bright colors, light woods, and pop splashes like a neon sign with DecantSF’s motto, “Drink for Yourself.”
“Wine often has this rustic, old world, masculine version of itself that you see in so many typical wine shops, and they wanted to break the mold of that [with] a fun, young experience,” says Collins.
Grewal and Patricia met while studying at the CIA’s Accelerated Wine and Beverage program. Their focus at DecantSF is providing a friendly, approachable retail experience with an emphasis on women, who represent the majority of wine consumers in the US, but can go overlooked as customers.
“When you’e working on the restaurant side of things, it’s hospitality hospitality hospitality,” says Grewal. ”It’s a very guest-forward experience.” But that doesn’t always hold true at retail establishments, where Patricia says she’s felt “very underestimated” (with notable exceptions like Verve and Ferry Plaza Wine Merchants, she says).
“A lot of time I would go into shops would ask the staff, ‘hey what’s a fun rosé?’ and they’d guide me to these basic choices,” echoes Grewal.
At DecantSF, Grewal and Patricia hope to engage customers of all wine experience levels while emphasizing good value wines and sustainability: Expect lots of options from the Loire Valley, Beaujolais, eastern Italy, and Spain, “where you get a lot for your money from great, small wholistic producers.” A selection of beer is available, too, focused on female brewers and breweries that can be harder to find in California.
When it opens, DecantSF will also launch two monthly and two quarterly wine club options, like the “self care club,” with one to two bottles of wine and treats like candles and teas. Grewal and Patricia will also host events to showcase somms from local restaurants, who don’t always see the spotlight. “We want trade to come here, wine writers, baby somms... they can all have a place here,” says Patricia.
Starting May 1, DecantSF is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 8 p.m.