Ungrafted, a roomy new wine bar, restaurant, and retail shop from a married couple of veteran sommeliers, has taken root in Dogpatch. That news — not to mention the season — calls for Champagne, a major focus of Ungrafted’s wine list and a personal favorite of partners Chris Gaither and Rebecca Fineman.
“It’s an under-appreciated region in terms of the diversity of styles and as an option for pairing with food,” says Gaither who met Fineman at the advanced sommelier exam in 2012 (Gaither is now an advanced sommelier and Fineman a master sommelier). For early dates, they’d meet up after shifts at Ame and Gary Danko for late-night take-out paired with Champagne.
Those pairings, in part, provided the inspiration for Ungrafted’s eclectic food menu. Executive chef Nicholas Turpin (Boulevard) serves plates like za’atar pull-part bread and labneh, scallop ceviche, and buttermilk fried chicken — all ripe for wine pairings, including two Champagnes by-the-glass and four more sparkling wines. A sample food menu, without prices, is below — most items are between $10 and $18, says Fineman.
Another focus of the wine list is half bottles. “The fact of the matter is, they’re very convenient,” says Fineman. “They’re less of a commitment.”
More drink options include beer, sake, and non-alcoholic beverages. The couple recently crafted the wine menu at Korean tasting menu restaurant Maum in Palo Alto, paying particular attention to non-alcoholic pairings after Fineman’s pregnancy.
“When I was pregnant, I remember the disappointment of going somewhere and not being able to get something special.” Their daughter, Edith, is two — and as parents, Fineman and Gaither also hope to make Ungrafted a family-friendly destination.
MH Architects designed the sizable Ungrafted space, which is spread out on two floors of an industrial building with 90 seats at tables and a bar. Twin Walls Mural Co. (Elaine Chu and Marina Perez-Wong) provided gold-colored murals of climbing roots, and more artwork from Deborah Adams is on display.
Whereas wine bars can often serve as pitstops for drinks and cheese plates, Fineman and Gaither hope customers will linger for longer to enjoy Ungrafted’s full food menu and sample new wines. And with all sommeliers for servers — eight in total, including the couple— wine guidance should be no problem.
“One of the biggest misconceptions a lot of people have about sommeliers ... is that they just want to serve you the most expensive bottle,” says Gaither. Yes, Ungrafted will offer plenty of wines on the higher end — “It should be a Willy Wonka wonderland for people that want to drink wine,” says Gaither. But everything on the list will be special, and served as such, regardless of price.
“It’s really important to us that people understand we’ve put the wine menu together really consciously with regard to price points,” says Fineman. “We want people to be able to spend money if they want to, and not spend money if they don’t want to.”
Ungrafted is now open Monday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with lunch hours to follow. Reservations will be available online, retail bottles are available for purchase, and a wine club and tasting classes are ahead.
Ungrafted Sample Food Menu by on Scribd