Those on the lookout for a good — nay, a great — glass of wine would do well to focus their attention on the East Bay. While San Francisco might steal some of the spotlight with high-end pours and legacy wine merchants, across the water in places including Oakland, Berkeley, and Livermore, a rowdy wine scene that embraces the weird, wacky, and wonderful has emerged. Some of the East Bay’s most well-known wine bars embrace natural wines or lesser-known wine regions, and the area has offerings for nearly every kind of wine drinker. The core of the wine scene is centered around Oakland and Berkeley, but there are surprising sips to be found across the region. These are just a few of the exceptional wine bars pouring glasses in the East Bay.Read More
16 Bars for a Great Glass of Wine in the East Bay
From funky fresh finds of the natural variety to places to uncover rare legacy wines
Purity Wine/The Study Wine Bar
Purity Wine is a winery dedicated to organic and natural wines and the Study, the affiliated wine bar, expands on that dedication. The Study offers not only Purity’s range of pet nats, roses, red, and orange wines, but also bottles from some of their fellow natural winemakers making wine onsite, such as TyTy Wine and Gearhead Wines. The spot also welcomes winemakers from further afield, such as an event with Manuel Moraga Gutierrez of Cacique Maravilla in Chile.
Banter Wine is finally open after a few bumps in the road, but the El Cerrito community is welcoming this new wine bar with open arms. Expect wines from France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and South Africa, skewing toward sustainable, organic, biodynamically produced wines from smaller wineries.
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Riggers Loft Wine Company-R&B Cellars
Both tasting room and wine bar, Riggers Loft offers tasty pours with unbeatable bay views. The tasting room for R&B Cellars, Riggers Loft also regularly features wines from Carica Wines, Wachira Wines, Prima Materia, and more. There is a menu of Limited Reserve and Library Wines, and they also offer ciders from Far West Cider Company (for any wine-averse tag-alongs).
Wine So Cru
Wine So Cru’s owner and Certified Sommelier Nu-Beer Putthongvilai has put together a well-crafted selection of international and domestic wines at her Berkeley wine shop and bar. The list is exceedingly approachable and affordable for those looking for memorable bottles for celebrations. There are plenty of bottle options under $30 as well, along with a by-the-glass list for those who want to sit and sip awhile.
Snail Bar has become a local favorite for those exploring the natural wine scene in Oakland, with in-the-know folks following chef Andres Giraldo Florez from his time at Saison (and Mugaritz and WD-50 before that) to this corner spot. Though there have recently been some issues with neighbors and a now-resolved controversy around service charges, the wine bar has continued to offer an ever-changing menu of bites meant to go alongside the extensive bottle and by-the-glass selections.
DAYTRIP opened in 2021 with a wine selection as funky as their food menu. Jenny Eagleton (formerly of The Punchdown Natural Wine Bar) oversees the beverages, and the carefully curated selection runs the gamut from a red rice sake to a Lambrusco pet nat. The small wine shop corner shows prices for take-home and dine-in, and with most bottles under $50, Daytrip offers the chance to discover a new wine (or sake, or cider) without splashing out loads of cash.
Perle Wine Bar
Up in the hills of Oakland’s Montclair Village neighborhood, Perle Wine Bar leans heavily on some of the most well-known wine regions in France and California for the bulk of a wine menu that complements its French-tinged food. Wines are available by the glass and bottle, with some high-end bottles ready and available in case you wanted a unique wine option.
Ordinaire Wine Shop & Wine Bar
One of the Grande Dames of the Oakland wine scene, Ordinaire has been an East Bay favorite since opening in 2013. Like other Oakland wine bars Ordinaire shines a spotlight on natural wines and those who make them, with a rotating selection of by-the-glass offerings to complement the extensive bottle selection in the shop.
Couple Josiah Baldivino and Stevie Stacionis started this Oakland wine shop and bar in 2014, serving wines and small plates in a comfortable setting. If you’re intimidated by wines, the shop offers tastings on Saturdays, and blind tastings on Sundays, if you’re really looking to dig deeper into the various styles.
It’s easy to switch into an experimental mode with the wide selection at the Punchdown. Fresh off a 2022 James Beard Foundation award nomination for outstanding wine program, this is one of the best spots in the East Bay to do a deep dive into the world of natural wines. By the glass pours are available in addition to bottles, and a happy hour wine menu makes exploring the world of natural wines a bit more affordable for those new to the scene.
Although Slug is cut from the same cloth as its sister spot, Snail Bar, pouring glasses of natural wine alongside small plates, think of this as perhaps a harder partying younger sister. At night, this downtown Oakland spot features a gliterring mirrorball and a DJ spinning tunes, as you shimmy along in your seat and sip a glass of pet-nat.
CoCo Noir Wine Shop & Bar
CoCo Noir is placing BIPOC- and women-led wineries front and center at its wine bar and bottle shop in Oakland. Order a flight of wine and learn about businesses such as the McBride Sisters, Mela, Kumusha, and Where’s Linus?
If minimo’s aesthetic is minimal its wine selection is anything but that. A frequently changing by-the-glass menu is available daily, and any bottle in the shop can be enjoyed on-site for just a $10 corkage fee. On Fridays and Saturdays they offer a featured flight, a great opportunity to explore some of the natural wines they have on hand, which span the globe from California to France, Georgia (the country) to Slovenia.
The Preacher's Daughter
The name is a tribute to owner Dianah Rodriguez’s late father, Pastor Virgilio Remorca, but don’t expect a holier-than-thou attitude when it comes to the drink selection at this Alameda wine bar and cafe. The approachable menu covers both Old World and New World favorites, with flights of red, white, rose, and sparkling available. And with no glass over $16, The Preacher’s Daughters is a great spot to enjoy quality wine without breaking the bank.
Cordial Cellar + Lounge
An offshoot of Cordial Bottle Shop, Cordial Cellar and Lounge offers a curated selection of wines by the glass alongside small bites in a sleek basement-level space in the Castro Valley Marketplace. The by-the-glass menu pulls heavily from California wine country, with select appearances from international wineries. Education is a big component of the experience at Cordial, also, with various wine flights always on the menu and guided Wednesday night tasting experiences, wine suppers, pop-ups, and more.
Locanda Wine Bar
If you’re looking to extensively explore Italian wines alongside a selection of classic Italian antipasti, Locanda Wine Bar is more than willing to oblige. Get a selection of meats and cheese, while drinking a glass of rosé or pinot grigio of your choice (or whatever else you’re feeling at the moment). There are special events to attend, such as wine dinners and live music nights, plus a cocktail menu for those who perhaps aren’t as enthusiastic about wine.