Rebecca Fineman, who became the world’s 25th female Master Sommelier last fall, and husband Chris Gaither, who hopes to pass his Master certification this summer, are setting up a little place of their own in Dogpatch: A wine-focused restaurant and small retail shop to be called Ungrafted. The hospitality veterans — and new parents — hope to open at 2419 3rd Street in late summer or early fall.
Fineman and Gaither met through the world of wine at the Advanced Sommelier exam in 2012. He’s currently wine director at Octavia, and was wine director at Gary Danko before that. John Vuong, of influential wine bar High Treason, where Fineman has worked, is also involved in the new business.
Ungrafted will pair wines, many by the glass and half bottle, with small dishes inspired by different street foods. “When my husband and I were dating, we would get together for really cheap food with something delicious to drink — sometimes expensive, sometimes not,” Fineman says. She hopes Ungrafted will channel that experience; the couple is still interviewing a chef for the position.
“I’ve always liked that juxtaposition between something messy and champagne,” says Fineman. “And you don’t need caviar: You can have something like quiche — or guacamole with chablis, that’s really good.”
Sparkling wines are another passion the couple hopes to share. “They’re one of the most versatile beverages out there,” Fineman says. “At the end of the night I almost always want something with bubbles — whether it’s beer or champagne.”
Ungrafted’s space, formerly a chocolate shop, is under 3,000 square feet, but the team will make the most of it, putting a mezzanine on top of the kitchen area and stocking a small wine cellar with some rare wines. They’ll also serve beer, sake, and non alcoholic beverages. And with a passion for wine education, they hope to offer more and less formal classes and tastings.
A Master Sommelier certification isn’t just an endorsement of knowledge, Fineman notes, but of hospitality and charisma as well — something she hopes to convey at Ungrafted. “We’re both so stuck on hospitality,” Fineman says. And with the couple’s 18-month old in mind, they’ll be particularly hospitable to parents with young kids in the neighborhood. That, of course, means high chairs for the young ones — and lots of good wine for the adults.