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.