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Leslie Ewing

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A New Natural Wine Pop-Up Is Creating Space for Queer Wine Lovers

Somebody’s Sister plans to bring lesbian, gay, non-binary, trans, and queer people together to enjoy great wines, starting October 19 at Millay

Pamela Busch and Liz Rubin are self-identified “wine dykes,” a phrase they use to both reclaim a word commonly used as a misogynistic slur and to capture their mutual love of wine — and their male cats. Later this month, they’re launching a pop-up called Somebody’s Sister to create a safe space for other lesbian, gay, non-binary, trans, and queer people to come together and enjoy great natural wines.

The idea for Somebody’s Sister came about as Busch, who also founded The Vinguard, a non-profit promoting equity in the natural wine industry, and Rubin, whose day jobs include wine buying for Bi-Rite Markets, were drinking wine and “talking about how there's no place for lesbians to go,” Busch says. A wine industry vet with some three decades of experience under their belt, Busch recalls a time before the closure of long-standing lesbian bars like the Lex led to concerns about the lack of lesbian and queer drinking spaces, not just in San Francisco, but all over the country. “Part of it is because being queer has kind of gone mainstream,” Busch says. “And I think that’s amazing. It’s great that you can go just about anywhere in the city and not feel like you have to hide who you are, but at the end of the day, they’re still straight spaces.”

Now Busch and Rubin say they want to “do their little part” to create a gathering place for the lesbian and queer community. “Anyone is open to come,” Rubin says, but “everyone just has to respect that this is a queer space,” Busch adds.

The plan is relatively straightforward: At the event, they’ll be pouring wines made by female winemakers — with a priority on spotlighting those from communities that have been historically underrepresented in the wine industry. The founders are already working to line up future venues and looking specifically for spaces owned by women and people of color or those in LGBTQ community. “We don’t want to be like our patriarchal adversaries and just open us a business,” Rubin says, stressing that they want to support business owners whose values align with those behind Somebody’s Sister.

The pop-ups will also aim to educate more people about natural wines, which Rubin and Busch say are “what people should be drinking” — for environmental reasons and because they just taste really good. There will be bottles available for purchase; price points for wines by glass will be accessible to “all pocketbooks”; and there will be “great music,” Busch says. “And we’ll start there. It’s going to go through many iterations.”

Somebody’s Sister will pop-up at Millay (691 14th Street) on Tuesday, October 19 from 6 to 10 p.m., in the former Fig & Thistle wine shop space. Follow Somebody’s Sister on Instagram for updates and future events.

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