Best Wine Bars in the Bay Area

Best Wine Bars in the Bay Area

Wine bars are like snowflakes: each one is distinct in look and feel, wine selection and vibe. Customers play a role, too, influencing what gets placed on the wine list and the food menu. We looked at Bay Area wine bars and found a few where we want to hang out, chill, drink a glass or two of wine, learn something new. It’s the IRL part we like best.

Featured Photo: Courtesy of Savvy Cellar

San Francisco

People are seated and chatting at a cozy wine bar, regarded as one of the best wine bars in the Bay Area, with various bottles displayed on shelves around the room. The bar features a chalkboard menu, warm yellow walls, and an inviting atmosphere with soft lighting.
Photo: Courtesy of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant

One Ferry Building, Store #23, San Francisco

Wines: International and California wines of distinction.

Why Visit: Owner/Partner and Master Sommelier Peter Granoffs wine bar was the fourth business to open at the citys iconic Ferry Building after it was renovated in 2003 and has been pouring a heavily curated list ever since. People expect it to be California-centric, but there is a large international component that appeals to locals,” Granoff says. Granoff offers what he calls high-quality wine that represents a good value proposition” in 2 oz., 5 oz. and carafe-size pours or you can self-construct a flight. Grab any wine off our shelf and drink onsite for $12 corkage,” Granoff insists, an amount unheard of in San Francisco. Granoff invites you to play with your wine, pairing it with caviar, plates of charcuterie and cheese, or a Mediterranean mezze plate. Explore your own taste parameters,” he says while enjoying the terrific people watching on the patio. Almost 20 years on, its still a scene.

A close-up of a wine bottle labeled "Perdera Duemiladiciannove Monica di Sardegna Denominazione di Origine Controllata" sits against a backdrop of one of the best wine bars in the Bay Area. The bottle features a red and gold sun emblem at the top, with various bottles lining the shelves behind it.
Photo: Courtesy of Scopo DiVino

2800 California Street, San Francisco

Wines: Winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year, a score for a six-year-old business.

Why Visit:  Wine is women,” says Owner/Wine Therapist Tim Skyler Hayman, who confirmed that 85% of his clientele are of the so-called fairer sex. Around a cool zinc bar, two big couches and four comfy chairs encourage lounging with a 6-ounce pour (the standard here) of eclectic wines from anywhere in the world. Hand-painted murals show the worlds wine regions and a significant investment in sound proofing means guests can hear themselves talk, even when there is live music (six days a week). A bottomless brunch is insanely popular on the weekends, but most come in for Haymans guidance on what to pair with their extensive menus. At dinner that might be a medium-bodied red grape — Monica from Sardinia — with the pork ragu while at brunch, Chef Jeffs NOLA roots come to the forefront in a fried catfish Benedict or house made beignets — his burger also won Best Burger from the SF Bay Guardian two years running. We also do flights, but our most popular program is the bartenders choice, which we say is a wine therapy session,” Hayman adds.

A lively scene inside a dimly lit bar: A bartender, smiling broadly, holds a towel while talking to customers seated at the bar. Several people, including a man in a plaid shirt and a woman with shoulder-length hair, engage in conversation. Wine bottles line the back wall of one of the best wine bars in the Bay Area.
Photo: Courtesy of California Wine Merchant

2113 Chestnut Street, San Francisco

Wines: Small batch California wines served in Riedel stemware.

Why Visit: Forty-nine years on Chestnut Street (it first opened in 1974) with a specialty in small California wine producers is the winning ticket for a wine bar that pours half and full glasses or a bottle. There are also new discoveries from Oregon and Washington as well as a well-curated selection of international labels. A small menu of cheese, salami, or hummus plates staves off hunger until dinner can be had nearby.

A modern bar interior features a long wooden bar with stools, an extensive liquor selection, and wall-mounted glasses on the left. Black stools line narrow, high tables on the right. The ceiling has a unique geometric wooden design, and large art pieces hang on the wall—truly one of the best wine bars Bay Area offers.
Photo: Courtesy of High Treason

443 Clement Street, San Francisco

Wines: At an up-and-coming neighborhood spot, wines are curated by a Master Sommelier.

Why Visit: Michael Ireland has been a Master Sommelier since 2006, spending most of his time in Michelin starred restaurants like French Laundry, Quince, Benu, and Restaurant at Meadowood. Established in 2016 amid the Clement Street lineup of pan-Asian eateries and old-time Irish pubs, Irelands venture is a laid-back space. I grew up on a skateboard and wanted to get back to that,” Ireland says. High Treason is like coming over to my house — drink some good wine and listen to some records. Wine was never meant to be a highbrow thing.” His list reflects his history sourcing wines: He doesnt stick to a region or style, recently discovering an orange wine an Italian Coenobium, made at a monastery in Lazio, for example. Its an absolute classic,” Ireland says. Hes got 40 wines by the glass and says that chilled wines, including Lambrusco and a light pinot noir from JK Carriere, are flying out the door. Open six years with skateboard decks on the walls, album covers arranged as artwork and a great bottles” wall, its one part punk and one part mid-century modern. Try one of those chilled reds with a plate lunch (or dinner) from Unco Franks, Hawaiian island grindz, which is running the kitchen.

A group of people are seated at a cozy outdoor restaurant during the evening. The scene is warmly lit with string lights, and the tables have wine bottles, glasses, and red napkins. With plants in decorative pots around, this lively and engaging spot resembles one of the best wine bars Bay Area locals love.
Photo: Courtesy of Amelie

1754 Polk Street, San Francisco

Wines: French wine focus.

Why Visit: After sixteen years in Polk Gulch, owners and Frenchmen Samie Didda and Certified Sommelier Germain Michel credit their success to a regularly updated wine list and food program which is all-in on France. Ok, ok, there is the occasional Malbec from Argentina or Trebbiano from Italy but really, its all about Frances many wine regions, accompanied by a French-influenced menu of small plates (escargot, oven-baked Camembert), flatbreads, and grands (duck leg confit, gratin de Ravioles du Royans).

Music sourced from French radio floats over the red-tinted room, aglow with warmly lighted lamps. At the bar or at a table, the Flight Club Happy Hour includes three pours for $12 and the weekend oyster special runs $13. “We always talk about F AMELIE,” says Michel, who has clients who come back every time they visit San Francisco. He currently is recommending the beef carpaccio with any of the 15 cru Beaujolais on the Amelie list or the warm pistachio goat cheese ball with Minervois from Didda’s Domaine du Somail in the Languedoc. 

A variety of wine bottles are displayed on a wooden shelf. The assortment includes red, white, and rose wines, each with distinct labels and colorful caps. A small candle in a glass jar is also visible beside the bottles, creating a warm and inviting ambiance akin to the best wine bars in the Bay Area.
Photo: Courtesy of El Lopo

1327 Polk Street, San Francisco

Wines: Spanish wines, sherries, and vermouths.

Why Visit: Lower Nob Hill welcomed owner Daniel Azarkmans homage to all things Spanish just over three years ago. “They have a vermouth hour in Spain between 4 and 6 in the afternoon — I love that culture of grazing, eating where it is not necessarily about a meal but as a social activity,” says Azarkman who fell in love with the Spanish bar culture on a visit and wanted to bring that idea to San Francisco. While getting together is the primary activity, the Spanish wines, sherries and vermouths are all organized on the menu by what to pair them with, streamlining the process for the adventurous or just the hungry.

Azarkman, who was drawn in via sherry’s beguiling whispers, notes that there are eight styles of sherry, “and seven of them have less sugar than most table wines. Sherry is very food friendly.” Think of his neighborhood watering hole as an alternate reality where California is still a Spanish territory. “We are not authentically Spanish,” he says. His suggested pairing? Azarkman swears by the old Spanish saying: “If it swims, manzanilla or fino, if it flies, amontillado or palo cortado, and if it runs, oloroso.”

North Bay

A charcuterie board featuring various cheeses, breadsticks, crackers, salami, prosciutto, dried apricots, dates, almonds, olives in a bowl, and chocolate pieces sprinkled with flower petals. A dollop of grainy mustard complements this slate board inspired by the offerings at the best wine bars in the Bay Area.
Photo: Courtesy of Zinz Wine Bar

207 Corte Madera Avenue, Corte Madera

Wines: Known best for boutique California wines, but covers the world.

Why Visit: The large parklet out front and convivial atmosphere are big draws for a wine bar that is built into the Corte Madera community. A tight menu of bar snacks includes must-try prosciutto-wrapped dates and classic duck rillettes, as well as cheese and charcuterie boards. Live music and wine tastings with winemakers from Italy or just over the hill in Sonoma are part of the fun. I wanted to turn it into a place where people could come, sit, drink good wine, talk about or forget about their day, smile and be with friends,” says owner Kyle Hendrix. I think that’s happened.”

Two women sit on a brown bench in a modern wine tasting room, renowned as one of the best wine bars in the Bay Area. One woman is sampling wine while holding a glass; the other is holding a bottle. A wall-mounted wine rack displaying various bottles decorates the left side of the room. Large window in the background.
Photo: Courtesy of Squalo Vino

34 Main Street, Tiburon

Wines: California wines, exceptional international bottlings, local craft beer.

Why Visit: New to the North Bay wine scene (they opened in fall of 2021), Squalo Vino has quickly become a destination for its European-style wine bar and lounge. Launched by SG Ellison, John Hoffman, Peter Wohlfeiler (a.k.a. the Tiburon Tasting Trio) who made the lounge a community social hub, the lounge is a mix of locals in need of refreshment and tourists who are surprised at Tiburons emerging wine scene. Stop in to try the “Fish & Chips,” one oz. of Royal White Sturgeon Caviar or Russian Osetra Caviar with warm potato chips and crème fraiche paired with the “Sparklers Flight.” Besides being classic, Champagne’s lively, palate refreshing bubbles provide a delicious contrast to the salty richness of fine caviar,” says General Manager Kelly Barrett.

A charcuterie board on a wooden surface, featuring sliced salami, chorizo, cheese wedges, green olives, dried dates, pickles, prunes, and a small bowl of pistachios. The items are arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner and reminiscent of the offerings at the best wine bars in the Bay Area.
Photo: Courtesy of Vine & Barrel

122A Kentucky Street, Petaluma

Wines: All of them.

Why Visit: I have a passion for wine,” says owner Jason Jenkins. All of it.” After living in nine countries with the State Department and brokering wine sales in France and Italy, Jenkins settled down in Petaluma, opening a wine shop there with globally sourced wines that meet his criteria of balanced flavor and lower alcohol. Pair any on his list with a dish from his extensive tapas menu — stuffed squid, white sardines and Galician mussels — and hang out at the heavy wood bar flanked by wine barrel seating or at a low table with regular chairs. Jenkins soft spot, for the moment at least, is pinot noir from the Petaluma Gap, but stop in and start talking and who knows where your next tasting experience might lead?

A cozy restaurant interior featuring a wall-mounted wine rack filled with various bottles, wooden tables, cushioned chairs, and a comfortable seating area with armchairs and a sofa. Often compared to the best wine bars in the Bay Area, the setting has a warm, inviting ambiance with modern decor.
Photo: Courtesy of La Dolce Vita

151 Petaluma Blvd South, Petaluma

Wines: Locally made and international boutique and hard to find wines.

Why Visit: Owner and wine director Sahar Gharai grew up visiting Sonoma wineries and, after spending time in Italy, sought to create the enoteca experience in his hometown. Open since 2007, the bar features 40 wines by the glass which can be done up as flights and there is a special Coravin list so customers can try higher end barolos, burgundies and bordeaux. A menu of pizzas and paninis is popular but Gharais current favorite is sauteed mushroom crostini with goat cheese paired with Anaba Sonoma Coast pinot noir. The earthy, savory, and delicate flavors of both the mushrooms and the Pinot Noir make the perfect pairing,” Gharai says. Order one, then chill for a while watching the classic movie projected behind the bar.

A charcuterie board with sliced meats, cheeses, and grapes is on a marble countertop in a dimly lit bar. A bartender is serving drinks in the background while three patrons sit and converse, wine glasses resting before them. It's easy to see why this spot ranks among the best wine bars in the Bay Area.
Photo: Courtesy of Backstage Tasting Room

295 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur

Wines: Napa Valley wines from Backstage.

Why Visit: An extension of the familys vineyards on Howell Mountain, northeast of Saint Helena, the tasting room in downtown Larkspur is dedicated to the familys wines. Owner and Head Winemaker, Angelo Pera makes a chardonnay and a pinot noir from the Russian River Valley but the rest of the lineup is Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons, rosé, sauvignon blanc and others. “What makes us unique is our approach to modern winemaking and our ability to make super-premium wines that you wont be able to find anywhere else,” Pera says. Try them at the U-shaped bar or while ensconced in the patios large lounge chairs, preferably with a plate of balsamic-roasted beets or bites of roasted pork in tortilla cups.

Cozy bar interior featuring a marble countertop with various glasses and liquor bottles arranged on shelves behind it. Warm wooden accents and carved pillars add to the ambiance. A potted plant is placed on the counter, and sunlight filters through the window, making it one of the best wine bars Bay Area aficionados frequent.
Photo: Courtesy of Voyage

500 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo

Minimal intervention wines by the glass and bottle and a low-ABV cocktail program featuring sherry and vermouth, spritzes and other drinks are at the heart of a downtown wine bar and lounge. That may mean a ‘trebbiolo’ from Emilia-Romagna’s La Stoppa or a Bonhomme sauvignon blanc from the Loire. Chef Cameron Myers’ menu includes a mortadella hoagie, beef tartare and a Little Gem salad, in addition to meat and cheese plates and a Gilda pintxo. Enjoy at the bar, on the rail in the window or at one of the lounges in front of the fireplace.  

Miniature wine bottle, stem with white wine and plate of sushi from In Good Taste in Tiburon
Photo: Courtesy of In Good Taste

72B Main St, Tiburon

Tiburon, quickly becoming a destination for wine bars, welcomed another at the Fleming House on Ark Row in June. Owners and Marin natives Joe Welch and Zach Feinberg, who have known each other since high school, feature more than 24 different wines from all over the world, all made by winemaker Matt Smith. Taste by the glass or six-wine tasting flight or grab a 187 ml mini bottle or a 750 ml bottle to drink later.

Internos Beer and Wine Bar Larkspur
Photo: Courtesy of Backstage Tasting Room

1110 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur

After years of running a now-closed wine and beer bar by the same name in San Francisco, owner and Larkspur resident Adnan Abudaken, along with co-owner Tony Martinez, opened on a stretch of Larkspur’s Magnolia Ave, just before it turns into College Ave. A C-shaped bar sports tall stools and ample room to enjoy a glass of wine or beer alongside a charcuterie board, salad or flatbread, while a sleek wood wall holds bottles available for takeaway.

East Bay

A picnic spread features a wooden tray with assorted foods, including sliced blood oranges, a glass of red wine reminiscent of those found at the best wine bars in the Bay Area being poured, crispy snacks, olives, and a wedge of cheese with a knife. The background shows a patterned picnic blanket.
Photo: Courtesy of The Study Wine Bar

1401 Marina Way South, Suite 280, Richmond

Wines: The most extreme form of natural wines.

Why Visit: Owner Noel Diaz wanted to make wine and launched a career as a winemaker in 2013. He uses all organic grapes in his pet nat, rosé, orange and other natural wines. Diaz had no intention of having a bar, but the continual requests of neighbors asking when his winery was open encouraged him to convert part of the winery into a bar. Since opening in 2019, Diaz developed the wine program to only offer zero/zero wines, or wines that have absolutely no additives and have not been filtered. Its the most extreme form of natural wine,” Diaz says. Zero/zero wines from seven in house producers means 20 different cuvees made in Richmond. The Study also carries wine from other Californian and American producers, as well as an extensive selection of zero/zero wine from places such as Chile, France, Italy and Spain. This summer, The Study is serving a three course, prix fixe summer menu ($40) of stone fruit with baby greens, wood grilled steak with pureed potatoes, and roasted nectarine with wild thistle honey and creamy sheep’s milk cheese. Diaz pairs it all with Purity Wine’s 2020 La Niña, a co-ferment of Sonoma Pinot Noir and Nevada County Viognier. “It’s an almost airy pairing of fruit and earth with enough balance of structure and lightness to carry the entire meal,” Diaz says. He promises that you will have a good time and you’ll leave more informed than when you walked in.

Oakland's Double Standard Wine Bar features paper lantern decor
Photo: Courtesy of @the_double_standard

2424 Telegraph Ave, Oakland

A full bar and happy hour specials draw crowds to this low-key neighborhood lounge with a large patio. There are many reasons to come here: the great outdoor space, really good drinks, killer music and friendly service. You really can’t go wrong. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday 5pm to 12am. Closed Monday and Tuesday. 

South Bay

A hand holding a slice of flatbread topped with arugula and prosciutto over a rustic wooden table at one of the best wine bars in the Bay Area. On the table are wine glasses, a charcuterie board with cheese, grapes, strawberries, olives, various meats and spreads. Another flatbread sits nearby.
Photo: Courtesy of Savvy Cellar

750 W Evelyn Ave, Mountain View

Wines: Wines that are true to the varietal where they grow best.

Why Visit: Co-owner Jim Yang credits growing up in Europe with helping define his palate, a flavor preference he refers to as old world.” He likes to pick wines that are true to a places identity. For California, that means Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, for example. A menu of draft and canned beers complements a glass and bottle program, but many guests prefer to stop in for the weeks mystery flight.” Flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie boards and small plates of meatballs, crostini and Parmesan tater tots make fine eating, too.

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