Natural wines are showing up in just about all the fine dining and family-friendly restaurants around town. So it’s no surprise the new wave of cool wine bars is dedicated to just this old-school style of winemaking.
Natural wine remains a convoluted and controversial term, but it’s essentially juice made with little human intervention; no additives or added yeasts in fermentation. No chemicals used on vineyard. For better or worse, you just let nature take its course, so to speak. Many have these sour, yeasty-barnyard tasting notes.
Here are two new natural wine bars to check out. Expect to see more of them by the end of the year.
In their encore after nabbing the title of “Best New American Cocktail Bar” for their tiki joint in Belltown, power couple Anu Apte-Elford and her husband Chris Elford are opening a wine bar, Vinnie’s.
Their new 30-seat bar sits next to the award-winning Navy Strength, which was named best new bar during the Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans, one of the drink industry’s highest honors.
They also run the craft beer bar, No Anchor, and Anu also owns the acclaimed cocktail den Rob Roy two blocks away.
They’re a busy couple, which explains why they’re leaving the day to-day operation of their natural wine bar to new hire Bryn Hagman, who has worked at acclaimed New York bar restaurants such as The Dutch in Soho and recently Chez Ma Tante in Brooklyn.
Their star chef, Jeff Vance, has left for sunny SoCal, so Alexus Williams, the former sous chef at Navy Strength, now runs the food program at Vinnie’s. The raw bar features a caviar sandwich and “seacuteries” such as octopus terrine, salmon pastrami and smoked fish pate. The opening has been delayed until June 7. Unlike their other bars, Vinnie’s will not be only 21-and-over. A few tables will be set aside for families inside and out in the patio.
2505 Second Ave. (Belltown) website coming.
A more under-the-radar debut is this underground natural wine-and-cheese bar in Pioneer Square courtesy of a cheese-making couple from Utah, Joel and Rachel Wilcox. The couple took second place for their blue, raw sheep milk cheese at the American Cheese Society in 2014, but plan to source all their cheeses for their 50-seat bar. Expect an eclectic cheese selection with lots of blue and washed rind cheeses to pair with their biodynamic wine list. This subterranean den also has a full bar with a focus on amari and absinthe. Also expect gameday specials like a hotdog-and-Rainier for 10 bucks.
119 First Ave. S. (Pioneer Square) underbellyofseattle.com