Where to Drink Natural Wine on the Coast
Napa, California, and Charleston, South Carolina
This natural winery offers oenophiles the chance to explore the intricacies of their winemaking process with two locations. Book a tasting among the vines—literally!—in Napa Valley where Mira grows and produces the wine. Or enjoy a glass in the quaint, exposed brick tasting room and wine education center in historic downtown Charleston. No matter your tasting location, be sure to seek out the Syrah Hyde, a Rhone-style wine with aromas of blueberry and black pepper.
Stems and Skins
Charleston, South Carolina
The sleek, no-fuss interior of this North Charleston bar allows you to focus all your senses on the glass at hand. And with a name alluding to the process of whole cluster fermentation (most often seen in Burgundy), it should come as no surprise that their wine list follows suit—think floral, light, and just a little offbeat. The fare leans Mediterranean, with items such as garlic-fermented honey drizzled over ricotta and canned seafood apps.
This tucked-away spot—a former tire shop turned bar—serves up natural wines in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. Kakegawa native Yuki Yamaguchi infuses both Japanese and French influences into a menu that earned the tiny spot a slot on Bon Appetit's 2016 list of Best New Restaurants. The wine list, solely carrying international bottles, is overwhelmingly French. The equally international “Can to Table” list, boasting spiced calamari from Portugal, mussels in escabeche from Spain, and habanero smoked oysters from Washington, makes for a fresh and flavorful wine pairing. This definitely isn’t your mother’s canned seafood.
Drifters Wife/Maine & Loire
The one-man kitchen (literally a nook next to the bar) at Drifters Wife whips up locally inspired dishes while dinners sip on natural wine courtesy of an extensive in-house wine shop. The James Beard Semifinalist for Best New Restaurants curates an ever-changing wine list with bottles from the Loire Valley and southern Germany. On the horizon, owners Peter and Orenda Hale anticipate adding wines from emerging producers in Savoy and Corsica.
With an unwavering dedication to local and organic food, Vinalnd’s robust list of natural wine seems like, well, a natural. This Portland, Maine restaurant crafts plates from all organic and gluten-free ingredients from within 100 miles of the restaurant. The steak tar-tar—hand shaved to order, giving it an incredible texture—is a standout, made only better by the pickled onion and salt-cured shiitake mushrooms on top. Pair it with the Frank Cornelissen Contedino, a table red wine from the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily.
Every Wednesday night in Vancouver’s Gastown district, The Birds & The Beets coffee shop shifts from caffeinated to fermentation focused with its weekly pop-up wine bar. Juice Bar founder Siôn Iorwerth selects three wines to serve by the glass each week—so far, the funky, flavorful pét-nats have played well at the bar à vin scene. Local food purveyors Noods and Chams Sweetboy serve up fresh pasta and sweet and savory cream puffs, respectively, from the kitchen to complete the coffee shop takeover, which Iorwerth hopes to continue beyond the summer months.
Grapes & Soda
In the same vein as its sister restaurant Farmer’s Apprentice, Grapes & Soda offers natural products in a farm-fresh-meets-urban-chic environment. But at Vancouver’s first natural wine bar, the wine (of course!) comes first. Mainstays include British Columbia stalwarts such as Okanagan Crush Pad, Little Farm, and Lock & Worth. On the international front, sommelier Kieran Fanning suggests the Coenobium skin-contact wine produced by Cistercian nuns outside of Rome—its floral, honeyed, and citrusy nuance will make you a natural wine convert yet.
L’Oursin rides the wave of Paris’s bistronomy movement—fine French cuisine minus the high prices and stuffy atmosphere—into Seattle. Selections from France and the Pacific Northwest dominate the ever-changing wine list, with an emphasis on orange wines and pét-nat sparklers. Try L’Oursin’s octopus with braised ham hocks, cherries, and fennel with a malbec from Cahors or drink outside of the box with one their many French ciders.
Stop into Seattle’s only wine shop dedicated exclusively to natural wine, and you’re bound to taste a gratis splash or two from the handful of bottles always open for easy sampling. While perusing shelves of rarities from the Jura and Monstant, snack on an avocado tartine with egg and kraut or sardines with oven-roasted tomato and fennel salad, all made in house (save for the bread). No need to fret if you fall in love with Vif’s selection while vacationing—the Vif Natural Wine Alliance ships two bottles monthly right to your home.
What sets apart this rustic (Douglas fir flooring, weathered metal banquettes), yet cozy Echo Park charmer is a rotating selection of eight kegged wines from the likes of Broc Cellars and Matthiasson. Looking to end the night on a hoppier note? Founders Michael Lippman, Joshua Weinstein, and Jason Piggott (vets of the New York and L.A. restaurant scenes) have got you covered, with taps from Evil Twin, Prairie Artisan Ales, and Pizza Port.