San Francisco has seen an explosion in wine bars in the last six to eight months. Thankfully these newcomers have not been concentrated in the downtown area, but instead (good thinking, folks) have been plopped down here and there in neighborhoods that were lacking any sort of refuge for those more inclined towards Chardonnay than Schnapps.
One such neighborhood was Dogpatch, the scruffy little brother to Portrero Hill, and its recent wine relief has come in the form of a cute little wine bar called Yield. The first thing that occurs to me in thinking about how to describe Yield is that it's pretty much set up exactly how I would set up a wine bar if I had space about that size. A combination of low stools and couches, a standing bar, and a few high tables in a slightly partitioned-off room offer patrons the ability to lounge or perch to their hearts' content and a high-tech fireplace dangling like a picture frame off of one wall makes for a warm, inviting feel for those who stumble in out of the rain.
The lighting is subdued, as is the downtempo house and electronica music that plays in the background, and the crowd (if you can call it that) matches the mood. Dogpatch is off the beaten path, which means that you can find a place to sit and you can carry on a conversation without shouting, two of my personal requirements for having a good time over a glass of wine.
Yield offers something unusual when it comes to the wine list: a focus on Biodynamic, Organic, and Sustainable winegrowing. Every wine on the list is classified as one of the three. Around 45 wines are available by the glass, twenty or so whites and an equal number of reds. The list spans several countries, and generally has a few gems in it, though despite its focus on sustainable agriculture practices some wines from larger, more commercial producers show up more than I'd like. The list changes in small increments only, so if you find something you like, it may very well be around a few weeks later for your next visit, but this means less variety for frequent visitors.
Yield offers a small selection of nibbles to go with the wine that include a trio of nuts, olives, and bruschetta; a cheese plate; and a couple of thin crust pizzas. Needless to say, this isn't a place with a kitchen, so don't go expecting dinner. However if you're looking for something to tide you over, these small plates of organic food will do just fine.
Because of its small size, service is pretty casual. Most everyone walks up to the bar to get a glass of wine, though the owner Chris Tavelli, who is usually behind the bar, generally wanders over at just when you were thinking you wanted to try something else, but didn't want to get up from the couch. The genial Tavelli, who used to be the sommelier at Millennium restaurant in San Francisco, knows all of the wines quite well and is happy to sit and chat about the finer points of organic wine, or any of the producers on the list.
While the wine list is not quite as exciting or dynamic as I might like, the mellow atmosphere, the comfy surroundings, and the nice folks that work there mean that Yield will continue to be a frequent stop for me.
Yield Wine Bar
2490 Third Street (at 22nd street)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Open Tuesday thru Saturday 5:00 PM to Midnight, closed Sunday & Monday. No reservations required or accepted. Street parking is easy to find in the neighborhood, especially to the east of Third street.
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