Biondivino Boutique Winery

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On a recent trip to San Francisco I had a strong longing for Italy or anything Italian for that matter. What’s a Food Stalker to do? Either go to an Italian restaurant or to an Italian Wine shop. (we’ll save Italian shoes for another blog post.) The clock was ticking and it was a stretch to make it across town before the maddening five o‘clock rush hour traffic. Just like an east-coaster in New York city, I whipped around each block with ease until I stumbled upon the infamous little scalloped orange awning indicating I arrived at a wine boutique called Biondivino , located between the Russian Hill and Nob Hill neighborhoods. Ceri (pronounced “Kerry”) Smith is the innovative brains behind what is considered one of the leading sources for under-the-radar Italian wine and natural wines in the country. For the record, her ever changing whimsical window displays can put Barney’s to shame. That hot Italian orange bike in the window had me dreaming of cruising the Amalfi Coast with the wind blowing in my hair I tell you…Ok, it’s short, but it does blow people!

Named after owner Ceri Smith’s great-grandfather, the Biondivino wine boutique offers over 400 wines from Italy’s 20 regions, French champagnes, Austrian, Georgian, Slovenian and other wines from smaller wineries. Inside the shop are rows upon rows of wall-mounted wine racks with portraits of her great-grandmother and great-grandfather, a man named Settimio Biondi, who arrived at the Port of Oakland from Tuscany the very day of the ’06 quake. Her grandfather loved the city and built many flats in the surrounding area.

Ceri has a passion for odd ball wines, the ones you don’t normally hear about. With a degree in fine art, in her view wine is like art in a bottle, each one unique and distinct. She craves the differences in each vintage, celebrates nuances and desires wines that make you think, laugh, and feel. While her main focus is Italian wines, there are fantastic esoteric wines, smaller producers and a few old California vintages in addition to European selections like Austrian rieslings. Her tastings combine fabulous mixed crowds with sophisticated palettes. It’s like being in her home with wines carefully chosen, reflecting an unwavering commitment to excellence. Only a handful of American wine shop owners have remained true to their mission of sharing unadulterated passion for wine. Ceri is included in that handful, putting you in a good mood the moment you step inside, as do the spirit and atmosphere of this quaint boutique.

Be sure to stop by Et AL., Ceri’s Louboutin shoe-boxed size darling jewel of a wine bar is located just around the corner from her store. It’s an intimate, classy cozy spot to share an appetizer, meet an old friend or make a new one. I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger and we shared small plates of warm olives, fried almonds and razor clams and of course the orange wine (whites made like reds and hence dubbed orange). Wines are not your usual boring wine list folks. Try a glass from Georgia (the country)!  Sparklings poured out of magnums, Riesling, Madeira and sherry, with a splash of Italian wines…you had me at hello! Why limit  happy to just an hour…Can I just move in and eat cheese and drink wine all day?

Learning to appreciate wine doesn’t have to be daunting, expensive, or reserved for some strange elite with magical noses. Let your taste buds run wild, be adventurous, even dangerous and don’t forget to leave your lipstick print on the rim – the ultimate message in a glass….

* Wine club memberships and winemaker tastings are also offered and Biodivino will ship almost anywhere in the U.S.


1 Comment

  1. Tisha U. Hyde

    July 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    As we sat down for the tasting we were also reminded of the ongoing theme of Italian wines – in Italy wine is food, and each wine we tried was paired with either a thin slice of salty Italian ham or a delectable cheese, served to us by Bernardo and Niccolò’s mother. They encouraged us to taste the wines alone, and then try them with food to experience how the food enhances the wine, and vice versa.

With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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