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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drink the Way the Good Lord Intended: Wine Week Celebrates All-Natural Vino

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 3:37 PM

click to enlarge Terroir: Talking up the benefits of natural. - R. LAURISTON
  • R. Lauriston
  • Terroir: Talking up the benefits of natural.
If you're a bit fuzzy on the term "natural wine," you're not alone. Here's a brief explanation, just in time for the San Francisco Natural Wine Week (August 24-30).

Natural wine is similar in principle to biodynamic and organic wines, produced by winemakers who follow natural practices and take the route of minimal intervention in their vineyards and cellars. There are a few differences, though: First, producers of natural wine haven't received (and often haven't sought) official designation as organic or biodynamic. Second, and more importantly, natural winemakers use ambient or native yeasts, which occur naturally in the vineyard. In the absence of pesticides and packaged yeasts, these indigenous yeasts are what cause fermentation, producing wines that (as the winemakers will tell you) truly reflect the land.

SOMA wine shop Terroir will focus on natural wines from France, mostly, with a few Italians thrown in. Shop owner and wine buyer Guilhaume Gerard told SFoodie the natural movement has been gaining ground in France over the past decade. "It's still not a huge market, but definitely a niche," he said. On Monday, August 24, Gerard will lead a tasting of unsulfured wines. "The same care given to the grapes during the growing season has to be applied in the cellar as well," he explained "Natural wines should not be obstructed by things in the cellar -- no innocultaions, low amounts of sulfur, and no filtration."

Tasting events will happen at wine shops and restaurants across the city all next week, culminating in a Symposium at Terroir (1116 Folsom at Seventh St.) on Sunday, August 30, at 2 p.m. Other highlights include tastings at casual Italian spot Uva Enoteca (568 Haight at Fillmore) in the Lower Haight on Wednesday, August 26, and at local favorite Nopa (560 Divisadero at Fell) on Friday, August 28. No tickets are necessary for these events, except the Symposium on Sunday, which costs $15 per person.

Tickets are available through Arlequin Wine Merchant (384 Hayes at Gough). Call 863-1104 or e-mail For more information and the full schedule, visit

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Brian Bernbaum


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