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Archive for the ‘Wine, Beer & Spirits’ Category

John Herbstritt

Arianna Occhipinti: In Search of Place


Arianna Occhipinti had a fabulous introduction to the world of wine when, as a sixteen-year-old, she was invited by her uncle Giusto (the ‘O’ in COS, a Sicilian winery that was organic before it was cool) to help him pour wine at Vinitaly. She knew nothing about wine at the time, but felt that it was a world that she needed to be a part of. Fifteen years later she has become an inspiration for a generation of young winemakers trying to farm authentic wine in a world that impels so many of us to consume ever more generic products. It all starts at home. She grew up in the Vittoria region in between the mountains and the Mediterranean. At approximately 250 meters above sea level the heat is tempered by cool breezes coming down from the mountains, which helps maintain acidity. It is the landscape of that place which informs her wine and her winemaking.

Inspired and spurred on by her uncle, Arianna enrolled in enology school, though what she learned there was so antithetical to what she had absorbed from him. The pesticides, potions, and “fixes” that conventional winemaking subscribed to obscured the connection to place, making wine that was devoid of feeling. In 2004 she started out on her own with only one hectare, determined to find her own terroir.

Shortly thereafter she found she had a lot in common with the growing “natural wine” movement. What is natural wine you ask? I would define it as wine made with the least amount of intervention possible – the less human intervention, the more natural the wine. This can mean many things: hand-harvested grapes, no added yeasts, little or no sulfite addition, sometimes a more oxidative ageing process, the idea being that human intervention kills what is real and authentic about the wine. But after a number of years making “natural wine,” she began to see even this as too constraining. “Natural wine” became another sort of dogma, when the whole point was to make wines of terroir that speak of the place where they are from. Instead, natural winemaking practices help her make a more authentic wine of terroir.

As in many other arenas, making wines that speak of place also has important economic implications: “I want to be an example for young people who leave Sicily in search of something better or more important than the country. I want to show them the importance of tradition, and the beauty of being attached to a sense of place.” Like many traditional agricultural areas in Europe, Sicily is an economically depressed area with seemingly little to offer young people, who tend to leave for bigger cities on the peninsula. By demonstrating that not only is it possible to survive in the Sicilian countryside, but also to thrive and celebrate it, Arianna acts as a beacon of hope. Man cannot live on “beauty” alone, but Arianna’s success is inspirational, at least for this city-dweller.

To learn more about Occhipinti check out this interview with Arianna, and be sure to visit both Markets or our online store at Instacart.com to taste her beautiful wines!

Occhipinti SP68 Bianco, Sicily, Italy 2012 | $26.99 
Arianna’s white wine is unique, even for verified Sicily-philes. It’s a blend of Albanello and Moscato di Alessandria fermented dry on the skins for 15 days. Golden hued, aromatic, and soft with ripe pear and nut flavors, it’s practically crying out for a good piece of aged pecorino cheese.

Occhipinti SP68 Rouge, Sicily, Italy 2014 |  $26.99 
This is the wine that I first fell in love with from Arianna. It is a blend of a younger parcel of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, the traditional blend from Vittoria. It’s fruity, charming and quaffable, with fresh pluot, dark cherry, and a hint of spice. Serve this one slightly chilled with your favorite red sauce pasta dish.

Occhipinti Frappato, Sicily, Italy 2013 |  $39.99 
Arianna uses the vines from her oldest parcel to craft this single varietal wine. Usually winemakers blend Frappato with Nero d’Avola to temper its natural fruitiness, but this has the structure and earth to stand on its own. Try with tagine or other Mediterranean fare.

John Herbstritt

Back in Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world with more than 275,000 acres. So why, you ask, are we featuring a grape that doesn’t need any help selling records? We feel that Sauvignon Blanc has suffered from its fame; like a starlet swamped with paparazzi and mired in tabloid scandal, her excesses have been recorded and disseminated, but underneath lies dazzling talent. We are here to resuscitate her career. Sauvignon Blanc has been planted all over the world, and not always in suitable terroirs, but a select few New World regions have emerged to sing with their Old World predecessors.

In the Touraine, where Sauvignon Blanc arguably reaches her highest notes in France, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the two prominent spots. They look at each other from either side of the Loire river, and while the wines can be quite similar, they have distinct terroir. When young, the wines are quaffable, mineral-driven and bright, with aromas of citrus and crunchy nectarine, perfect companions for a semi-aged goat’s milk cheese. But with a little bit of age, the differences really emerge. The Sylvain Bailly Sancerre below is a great example of a younger Sancerre, but the aged wines from Gitton that we were able to get our hands on are extremely rare and special. We only have six bottles of each Gitton at our Divisadero Market – email us at wine@biritemarket.com if you’re interested!

Outside of the Touraine, Sauvignon Blanc can respond with quite different flavors, from gooseberry and pepper in Marlborough to ripe stone fruit and honey in Friuli, and even pineapple in Napa. The best versions balance fruit with an unmistakable minerality. New Zealand, in particular, has found an audience here in the US. Charming floral and grassy aromatics combine with fresh acidity to make New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc a tasty aperitif. But many people don’t know that the New Zealand winegrowing industry has also undertaken an unprecedented move towards 100% sustainability through the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand program. You know that when you drink wine from New Zealand that it has been made using sustainable practices.

Love her or hate her, you have to admit that you can’t get her siren song out of your head. She’s been wandering of late, to be sure, but she’s getting her act together. We’re featuring six of our favorite little ditties over the next month at both stores. Tickets are on sale now, so don’t miss em!

FarellaSBbottleshotFarella Sauvignon Blanc | $16.99
Tom Farella is a tireless champion of Coombsville, a wine growing region in eastern Napa. Since Coombsville tends to be cooler than the rest of the region Sauvignon Blanc can avoid the pitfalls of over ripeness and maintain its fresh face. Tropical, grassy aromatics.

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc | $18.99Nautilus
Many people believe Sauvignon Blanc didn’t gain popularity until the wines from New Zealand came onto the scene. It’s unlike any Sauvignon Blanc in the world, with its intense fruitiness and lush texture. Nautilus is a perfect example of Marlborough, and is delicious for sipping on the porch or as an aperitif.

BaillySylvain Bailly Sancerre |$22.99
Classic and classy, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley is archetypal. With its quiet intensity and striking mineral notes, Sancerre is an ideal terroir to balance the grape’s natural fruitiness and aromatics.  The Bailly family has been making Sancerre since 1700 and is one of the most traditional producers in the area.

Scarpetta Sauvignon Blanc | $24.99 Sauvignon-Blanc-1
Friuli’s Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect midpoint between old world Sancerre and new world New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Less green and aromatic than New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and boasts riper fruit notes found in Sancerre. Scarpetta is a project between two Friuli-obsessed wine veterans, Bobby Stucky and Lachlan Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, CO.

Gitton Père et Fils Pouilly-Fumé Clos Joanne d’Orion 1985 | $54.99 |Only 6 bottles at Divis!
A 30 year old Sauvignon Blanc is something we don’t get to experience often. After visiting the winery in Sancerre and tasting through several older vintages, we were blown away by the complexity of this wine. Nutty, savory, with bright acid and mineral notes.  A complete stunner of a wine.  Email us at wine@biritemarket.comif you’re interested in one of these bottles.

Gitton Père et Fils Sancerre Belles Dames 1990 | $54.99 | Only 6 bottles at Divis!
Ordered and aged at the winery in pristine condition, we’re so excited to offer some of these amazing Sauvignon Blanc from Gitton Père & Fils. Pascal Gitton believes 1990 was one of his greatest vintages for Sancerre and we can understand why. With nearly 25 years of age, this Sauvignon Blanc is surprising lively with stone and citrus notes. We feel like this can go at least 10 more years.  Email us at wine@biritemarket.com if you’re interested in one of these bottles.

John Herbstritt

Sour Summer in SF

sour-sf-banner-13“Turn on, Tune in, Drop out” is actually a phrase developed by the sour beer brewers in Leipzig in the 18th century when they discovered their delicious gose style of naturally fermented elixirs. They believed that the bright acidity of their beer was able to transcend the drinker onto a higher plane of existence…OK, so I made that up, but when you taste of the delicious new sours that we have in house right now, you may very well be transported.

Sour beer is all the rage in San Francisco, but how is it made? Brewers use special yeast strains along with lactic acid bacteria to coax more and more acidity from their fermentation, a flavor that is not often found in other styles of beer. Sour beers are also the perfect gateway beer for wine drinkers given their vinous nature.  Their flavors tend to evolve and become more dynamic over time, and many are barrel-aged.

These beers are prized for their pairability with food, since acidity is such an important component on the palate, but many are also great on their own with flavors and aromas that cascade over the palate in waves.  Sour beers tend to pair well with rich, fatty, savory foods – we’re particularly fond of sour beers with cheese.  The only rule about sour beers it seems, is that there are no rules.

Another particularity of sour beers is their affinity for fruit flavors. Locally, Almanac Beer Co. is famous for preserving the produce of a season by ageing their beers on the best local fruit, often calling out the farm on their labels. They follow a seasonal rotation, like the fruit that they brew with, so availability waxes and wanes with the changing of the sun’s position in the sky. Whatever the season (SF “Summer” or SF “Winter”) there is a sour beer companion for your meal, or as a gift for your favorite beer nerd.

The beers featsour-sf-circleured below are a wonderful representation of the diverse styles of sour beers, but only a smattering of the sours we have in house (and in our online store at Instacart.com), many in limited quantity.  Ask one of our Beer and Wine Specialists on the floor at 18th Street or Divis to show you the whole selection, and don’t forget to stop by the Cheese Department for a pairing! Turn on to the sour revolution, baby. Your palate will never be the same.


Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne 750 mL | $13.99
This traditional Flanders Red Ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blending of a younger eight-month-old beer with the 18-month-old barrel-aged brew. Fruity and rich with a full, sweet, and fresh taste.

Almanac Beer Co. Farmer’s Reserve Pluot 375 mL | $10.99
Pluots are created by cross-breeding apricots and plums; there are dozens of varieties with an amazing range of color and flavor. All through the summer, Blossom Bluff Orchards picks each variety at its peak: Dapple Dandy, Honey Punch, Flavor Queen, Black Kat, and Dapple Jack were all added to a sour blond ale and aged in wine barrels to create this funky oak-aged brew.
Pairs well with: Garden Variety Cheese’s Sweet Asylum – The balance of brightness and funk between this sour ale and tangy, creamy sheep’s milk cheese combines for a lush blend of floral, lanolin, and earthiness.


This is only a handful of the sours we have in the Markets!

Brouwerij Hof ten Dormaal “Zure van Tildonk” 375 mL | $10.99
Belgian “Farm to Bottle” sour beer brewed using hops and malt grown on the farm as well as the wild yeasts found around the farm. After a year of aging in a barrel, this sour is cellared for several months prior to release.
Pairs well with: Pecorino Sardo – The bright, buttery hay qualities of this sheep’s milk Pecorino shine with the tart, crisp funkiness of the Tildonk.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House Apricot (Divis Only) 750 mL | $29.99
Strawberry (18th Street Only)
 750 mL | $29.99
The Apricot is North West-style sour ale is a blend of wheat and blond ales that were aged in oak wine barrels for up to nine months before aging on fresh apricots for an additional six months. Flavors of fresh and dried apricot fruit are complemented by a tart acidity and lingering notes of apricot preserves.  Likewise, the Strawberry is aged in oak barrels with strawberries and vanilla for 12 months.  Bright and crisp, it captures the essence of fresh strawberries with subtle notes of oak, vanilla, and fruit preserves.

John Herbstritt

New Weeknight Wines from Josh Adler

Many of you will remember Josh Adler as our friendly wine buyer from back in the day. With one store and a small team he built the foundation for the wine program we run to this day, by sourcing good quality, responsibly-made wine from around the world way before it was cool. What some of you may not know is that he has continued that good work from afar.

Josh Adler
He founded the Paris Wine Company in his new hometown (of Paris!) in 2012, and has since been seeking out small French and Spanish producers to import into the U.S. Momentum has been building for a couple of years, and by now he brings in some of the best values in San Francisco. Some of our favorites from the past year have come from Josh, like Champagne Piollot, Courtault-Tardieux and wunderkind Yann Bertrand. These three new wines below are just as impressive.
But what is really admirable about Josh’s business are the strong relationships he is able to build with his producers. Since he is literally on the ground, visiting his winemakers all of the time, he is not only able to ensure the quality of the wine, but also that it is made by people that are good and true – when the wines arrive here you can feel the love. I know it sounds a little mushy, but at the end of the bottle, it’s not really about the wine is it? It’s about the people who made it from the land, who gave of themselves so that you could share that bottle with people that you love around your table. Try not to think about it too much, just enjoy.

Barou Syrah Vin de Pays Rhone, France 2014 | $15.99
From 40 year old vines on plateau and slopes in Charnas, destemmed and aged in four and five year old barrels. The 2014 is soft and supple and more forward than usual. The aromas are really lovely, black and blueberry fruit with floral and earthy notes. The palate is lush with round red fruits, but is balanced and light on its feet. Beautiful palate coating fruit on the finish, a simply delightful everyday red that’s a sensational value – serve cool and enjoy! (The estate is certified organic since 1975)!


La Galoche Beaujolais
Burgundy, France 2014 | 
A single vineyard, certified organic Beaujolais. Easy to like but also very complex at the same time. Red berry fruits with earth notes. A great value from the region.

Deux Moulins Sauvignon Blanc
Loire, France 2014 | 
An inexpensive yet tasty Sauvignon Blanc, it is organically farmed from Loire Valley, the original home of Sauvignon Blanc. It’s crisp, tart, minerally, with the right amount of citrus fruit. You can’t go wrong with this wine.

John Herbstritt

It’s Mid-Summer Rosé Season!

As many of you know already, Rosé season is near the top of the list as far as seasons go here at Bi-Rite. We usually celebrate the Rosé Solstice in March with the onset of Moulin de Gassac-mania, and the shelves tend to bloom pinker and pinker as the year progresses. The fall brings a steadily dwindling crop and somewhere around mid-October the sun sets on rosé, and the good citizens of San Francisco turn to other beverages to provide solace during the short days of winter. But right now around mid-July, we are enjoying the fattest and most delicious crop of rosés yet from Southern France, Spain and even our own backyard. In fact, although rosé gets lots of attention at the beginning of the season, I am an even bigger fan of the mid-season releases.


Since they have a little more time to age and develop flavors, the mid-summer rosés tend to have more going on. While the spring crop is usually bright, fresh, floral, and quite charming, the extra depth of flavor, texture, and minerality
from some of the later releases make it worthwhile to save at least some of your rosé thirst for the months of July and August. Take a break and visit your old friend Sauvignon Blanc for a week or two; when you get back to rosé country your palate will be primed and ready.


Another insider tip for you rosé drinkers out there: for myriad reasons some of your favorite California producers release their rosés earlier and earlier each year, though some of them could definitely benefit from an extra month or two in the bottle. The wise man or woman buys a case of Arnot-Roberts in March and then drinks it in August. Although we don’t have any more A-R right now, we do have six magnums of Matthiasson Rosé at our Divisadero location just in their prime at $49.99 each. A little treat for somebody lucky or intrepid enough to read to the end of this newsletter. Email me if you would like me to set something aside for you: johnh@biritemarket.com.


La Suffrene Rose (2)Muga Rose (2)Pas de Lescalette Rose (2)

Domaine La Suffrene Vin de Pays Provencal Rosé | $14.99
After years of selling grapes to the local co-op, Cedric Gravier started making wine on his family estate in 1996. The result has been terroir-driven wines with clean fruit and bright, fresh acidity. His Mourvedre-blend rose recipé is archetypal (that’s a good thing), and Cedric’s decision to bottle means fabulous value.

Muga Rioja Rosé  | $14.99
Muga makes one of the most distinctively delicious rosados in Rioja, indeed in all of Spain. It is a style referred to locally as “clarete,” which is a lighter type of rosé made by combining white wine with some red. It’s tangy and dry with red berry fruit and apricot notes.

Domaine du Pas de L’escalette Ze Rozé | $19.99 750 mL $44.99 magnum
Meet our new favorite French rosé! Made with mostly Cinsault, this rosé is beautifully balanced with tart red fruits, herbs, and a hint of briny minerality. Perfect with goat cheese!

Matthiasson Rosé Magnum | $49.99 Only six left at Divisadero!
SF Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year, Steve Matthiasson, has done it again! His rosé has bright aromas of grapefruit and white peach with crisp acidity and a dry finish that make a refreshing sipper for a sunny day!  Email johnh@biritemarket.com if you are interested.

Cimarron Tequila Sale – Because Taco Tuesdays Aren’t Enough!

Tues-Thurs-Campaign-web_tequila bottle webIf you love Taco Tuesdays as much as we do, you know that only one day of tequila and tacos per week just isn’t enough – that’s why we’re celebrating Cimarron tequilas with special pricing every Tuesday through Thursday starting July 21st.


Enjoy 10% off Cimarron Blanco Tequila ($17.99, regularly $19.99) and Cimarron Reposado Tequila ($20.69, regularly $22.99) Tuesdays through Thursdays until August 6th at both Bi-Rite Market locations.  The Cimarron tequilas are crisp and clean, made with estate-grown agave that is slow roasted creating bright, forward flavors, ideal for sipping or mixing in the Perfect Margarita.  The Blanco is bottled immediately after distillation preserving the flavors and aromas, while the Reposado is aged in oak for six months, creating some of the most expressive tequilas at this price point.


What better to pair with your tequila than tacos?  Our chefs at 18th Street and Divisadero will be dishing up their favorite tacos-of-the-day plus some bonus tequila-inspired dishes (we’ve heard rumors of mole, enchiladas and more!).  So if it’s Taco Tuesday, Why Not Wednesday, or Thirsty Thursday, be sure to swing by our delis to see what delicious dinner dishes will go along with your tequila.  Then, whip up a batch of our Perfect Margaritas (shop the recipe on Instacart.com) and you’ve got yourself a perfect summer evening – salud!


Margarita-Recipe-Web_recipe card

John Herbstritt

Offbeat California Varietals

In 2014 Cabernet and Chardonnay together comprised about one quarter of all wine grapes crushed in California, but today we’re exploring some of what grows on the other side. Acid-driven and original, these food wines are made for summer. If you haven’t read the New York Times article everyone has been talking about (“The Wrath of Grapes”), it’s a great overview of the new wave of California winemakers, many of whom we sell here at Bi-Rite Market.

Albariño and Chenin Blanc, though common in Spain and France, respectively, are rare here in California. Although many winemakers would prefer to experiment with varieties like Vermentino or Aglianico, one of the main obstacles is convincing growers to plant these exotic varieties. In the end, winegrowing is a business and if a farmer can be assured of a good return by planting Chardonnay then why would he or she take a risk with an unknown varietal? There are growers out there who are open, but the experimental winemaker must often work hard to convince growers to plant new and exciting things. In the case that a winemaker is lucky enough to find older vines to work with, as in the Broc Cellars Chenin Blanc, it can be a challenge to convince a grower not to graft over to something more profitable.

Which is why when you see a wine made from an “offbeat” variety from California, you almost always know that whoever made it is really going out on a limb to produce something authentic. You’ll never know until you try!

It only makes sense that winemaker Ian Brand would focus on Spanish varietals here in California, as Spaniards brought the first wine grapes to California when they established Missions along El Camino Real in the 18th century.
Based on the site of an ancient seabed, Monterey Valley has a high percentage of limestone in the soil, giving this Albariño a beautiful minerality and salinity. On the nose, this wine is all citrus blossom and brine – the mouth is elegant salted lemon with a long chalky finish and bright acidity.

Chris Brockway’s Chenin Blanc could cause any wine from the Loire Valley a bit of jealousy. Made from 60 year old vines in Solano County’s Green Valley, this wine is versatile with food. Its high acidity, focused minerality, and gentle fruit notes give simple seafood dishes the spotlight, but roast chicken or pork cutlets with mustard also shine.

John Herbstritt

Aperitif Wines – Start Your Night Right

FullSizeRenderIn this blog post I will attempt to convince you, reader, to stop whatever your current pre-dinner ritual and to instead take 15 minutes to relax and enjoy a light, slightly bitter, slightly sweet drink accompanied by salty snacks (like nuts or olives).  The purpose?  To whet your appetite and open your senses, preparing your palette to enjoy your meal. If you are totally against this proposition then this post isn’t for you. But if like me, you take pleasure in tasty, unique beverages and crunchy, salty little treats, and you think you might be open to this kind of suggestion, please read on.

You’re still reading, so you likely know that I’m talking about the aperitif. This word refers to both the act of enjoying a pre-meal drink and also to the beverages consumed therein. While it is more common in Europe to experience such a thing, here in the U.S. we too have a fine tradition of imbibing before we eat: think happy hours and cocktail parties. But there is something special about the way that the aperitif wine helps us prepare to eat that a pint of IPA cannot reproduce. It’s the combination of bitterness, acid, and sweetness that awakens the salivary glands and gets us ready for dinner without filling us up.

So, dear reader, next time you are hosting a dinner party, start your night right with a little apéro. You can serve any of these chilled over ice, with a spritz of soda water, or try our very own recipe for your “Aperitif Fix.”  Serve them with a bowl of the aforementioned mixed nuts and you’ve got your night started. And we haven’t even mentioned the possibilities for mixing cocktails! Chin chin!

Aperitif Fix Recipe

Campari $27.99
One of the original bitters in Italy, Campari was invented in 1860 by its eponymous founder, Gaspare Campari. It is also the essential ingredient in the classic Negroni cocktail, but if you’re an Italophile you just mix this with soda water and pretend you’re on the Almalfi Coast.

Lillet Blanc
Lillet is the original French Aperitif – it was initially used to cure malaria, but it tasted so good that it soon being used at the dinner table. It is made from Sémillon wine with quinine and citrus liqueurs added.  Serve it chilled with orange peel or add some berries or peach slices for a quick and delicious Sangria.

Uncouth Vermouth Seasonal Hops
This wildly inventive vermouth is the brainchild of Bianca Miraglia. Using the seasons as her inspiration, Bianca sources different herbs, plants, and spices and infuses them with a complementary wine base. The Hops is made with 16 different plants plus a final addition of Cascade and Nugget hops. Craft beer lovers will totally dig this amazing vermouth.

Buil & Giné Vermut
A unique aperitif from the Priorat region in Spain, the Buil & Giné is a vermouth made from the Macabeo grape and infused with more than 110 different plants and herbs. It’s then aged for two years in oak barrels to get the desired color.  It’s wonderfully bitter with a perfect balance of sour and sweetness. Serve this on the rocks or try it in a Manhattan.

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Vermouth di Torino is one of the only two protected geographical indication of origins for vermouth, the other being Chambéry in France. To celebrate their 120 year anniversary, the House of Cocchi recreated their original recipe for Vermouth Torino. With flavors of citrus, cocoa, and rhubarb, enjoy this neat with a citrus peel. It also makes a fabulous Manhanttan.


Waverley Aufmuth

Our House-Made 4th of July Menu is a Flavor Firework!

4th of July Star  The 4th of July festivities are ramping up and we’ve got what you need to blow it out for Independence Day!  Celebrate your independence by taking home some of our spins on 4th of July favorites, and don’t forget the Bi-Rite Creamery pie!

Short on time? Visit our online store on Instacart.com  and get everything you need for 4th of July delivered in SF in as little as an hour! Simply sign up for an Instacart account and you’ll find our 4th of July store, plus all of the Bi-Rite classics and favorites from every department – all at the same prices we offer in our markets.

Bi-Rite’s House Made 4th of July Menu

Available in both Markets and to order for delivery from our special online store atInstacart.com with your free account, from Thursday, July 2 through Monday, July 6:

7-Layer Dip

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili Lime Butter

Wyatt’s Cornbread with Jalapeno and Cheddar

Watermelon Salad with Queso Fresco, Lime, Cilantro, Mint and Chili Flake

Carrot, Kale and Cabbage Slaw with Creamy Honey Dijon Dressing

Summer Pasta Salad with Farfalle, Fresh Ricotta, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Black Pepper

Spicy Buffalo Wings

Bi-Rite’s Classic Fried Chicken

Niman Ranch St. Louis Pork Ribs with House-Made Chipotle BBQ Sauce

4th of July Star4th of July Raw Meats

Niman Ranch St. Louis Pork Ribs
$4.99/lb. (normally $7.99/lb.)
See our SF-Style Ribs recipe and shop for ingredients in both Markets, or order online for delivery from Instacart.com with your free account.

4th of July Desserts from Bi-Rite Creamery

   Bi-Rite Creamery Peach Pie
6″ – $12.99 / 9″ – $24.99

Bi-Rite Creamery Mixed Berry Pie
6″ – $12.99 / 9″ – $24.99

Bi-Rite Creamery Shortcakes

Bi-Rite Creamery Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream

Bi-Rite Creamery Peach Ice Cream

Made with Masumoto Family Farm peaches.

Bi-Rite Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream
pint – $8.99 /quart – $15.99

Pie Toppers & Accompaniments

Vermont Creamery Madagascar Vanilla Crème Fraiche

Organic Strawberries

4th of July StarBBQ Friendly, Dry-Farmed Wines

Bucklin “Bambino” Old Hill Ranch

Bucklin Rosé of Old Hill Ranch

Calder Wine Co. Charbono

Birichino Besson Vineyard Grenache

Perfectly Paired BBQ Beers

21st Amendment Brewery Hell Or High Watermelon
$9.99/6-pack cans

Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Summer Solstice
$10.99/6-pack cans

Anchor Brewing Summer Beer
$11.99/6-pack cans

John Herbstritt

Drought Friendly, Dry-Farmed Wines Perfect For Summer!

Dry Farmed Vines

Dry-farmed vines at the Besson vineyard (photo cred: Alex Krause).

As the drought deepens guests have been asking us how we as retailers have been responding to the growing crisis. We work hard to curtail water use at the markets on a daily basis, and we go a step further to support producers who practice sustainable water usage. In the wine department, we talk a lot about dry-farmed vineyardsand will be showcasing four of our favorite dry-farmed wines this month that are perfect for pairing with summer barbecues.

The first vines planted in California were not irrigated; Spanish settlers and later Italian immigrants planted vines that were drought-resistant, like Zinfandel and the old Mission variety. Even some of the first Chardonnay vineyards like Stony Hill in Calistoga were dry-farmed. But for the variety to take hold in the way that it did after the Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976 irrigation had to become the norm (even though all of those wines came from dry-farmed vineyards!). Chardonnay is originally from Burgundy, a very wet place. Once it became widespread, we, the consumer, and the vines were addicted. You can’t just turn off the spigot on vines that have been continuously irrigated, the shock could kill them. Even dry-farmed vineyards need to be watered for the first couple of years in order for the vines to successfully take hold.


Our favorite dry-farmed wines, great for bbqs!

So here we are in quite a pickle: the market demands from California varieties that cannot be produced without irrigation. When a farmer decides to plant a vineyard he or she is going to think first about what sells, but the price of water is becoming an increasingly important consideration. Our job, then, is to promote producers who we feel are already doing it right. Alex Krause and John Locke from Birichino make delicious Grenache from extremely old vineyards just east of Santa Cruz. The site is called the Besson vineyard and it was planted in 1910 to Grenache. They look more like small trees than vines, and they produce a miniscule amount of concentrated fruit each year. What makes old, dry-farmed vines so special? Alex shared his perspective: “I think that vines are like people and that with the benefit of a century or more, they’ve figured out what to do with the available resources – whether we’re talking nutrients from the soil, available water and sunlight, or the crop levels they set. They find their own rhythm and balance.”

If vines are like people then there is some hope for us after all. While each of us figures out how to deal with this crisis, at least there are drought-friendly wines to drink. We all play our part!

Birichino Besson Vineyard Grenache ($19.99)
Birichino was founded by two friends (John Locke and Alex Krause) who both worked at Bonny Doon. This bottling is from 102 year-old dry-farmed, own-rooted Grenache fermented with native yeast, aged in neutral French barrels, bottled unfiltered. A rosehip-like aspect dominates the wild berry fruit. Modest and bright, with a bit more tannin than up-front fruit and a pleasant dried-herb aspect – perfect for a weeknight.

Bucklin “Bambino” Old Hill Ranch ($21.99)
Old Hill Ranch is an historic jewel. It was founded by William McPherson Hill in 1851.  Will Bucklin’s mother and stepfather, Anne and Otto Teller, purchased the vineyard in 1981 and sold grapes to Joel Peterson at Ravenswood Winery for their top tier vineyard designate Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel.  Bucklin and Ravenswood are the sole producers of wine from the vineyard. The “Bambino” comes from a 10-acre block that was planted on Old Hill in 1998. This young vine field-blend is patterned after the ancient vine field-blend for which Old Hill is known; it is a blend of several grape varieties, principally Zinfandel, but also Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouchet and Grenache to name a few.

Bucklin Rosé Old Hill Ranch Sonoma ($19.99)
Sourced from the Old Hill Ranch Vineyard, this Rosé is made from Grenache, Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Carignane. Whole cluster pressed and finished dry. Beautiful floral aromas with a crisp finish.

Calder Wine Company Charbono ($24.99)
Calder Wine Company was founded by Rory Williams, who grew up in a wine family, with his dad, John Williams who started Frog’s Leap. Part of the Slow Food Ark of Taste, Charbono has a long and wending history in California. Only 70 acres remain here, and it is extinct in its native land of France’s Savoie. After arriving in the mid-1800s (imported, it is believed, by the same man who provided the famed botanist Luther Burbank with the source material for his gardens), it was alternately mistaken for Pinot Noir and Barbera until the mid-20th century, when Inglenook’s John Daniel began making it famous. Some of these mid-century examples still survive, and serve as inspiration for makers of Charbono today, to whom Charbono stands as a lasting connection to the heritage and history of winemaking in Napa Valley. This Charbono features vibrant aromas of cherry cola and ripe plums, backed by intense secondary flavors of forest floor, mustard flowers, dark chocolate, sour cherries and bee pollen. A soft, plummy texture blends with bright acidity and dusty tannins to provide a backbone to the intense aromatics.