Hughes is the owner of Bottle Bacchanal is a boutique bottle shop in the Castro that specializes in natural wine and small-batch artisanal spirits. The shop is known for its exceptional selection and gorgeous interior, but also its mission to highlight women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ producers.
The shop has a focus on natural wine, a style that is often compared to sourdough bread in its use of native yeast strains and traditional techniques. It’s a fitting comparison because Hughes spent most of her career working as a bread baker and pastry chef at celebrated bakeries like SF’s Tartine Bakery.
Like sourdough bread, customers tend to walk in with established opinions about natural wine. ” A lot of people have this idea that natural wine is intense, vinegary, and volatile, but you can also just get a natural crisp clean bottle that tastes similar to the wine you’ve been drinking your whole life,” commented Hughes. “I really wanted to showcase the approachability of natural wines.”
One way that Hughes bridges this gap is by hosting frequent tastings and pop-ups. These events give curious customers the opportunity to experience wines from a wide range of small producers. Tastings range from a tasting of autumnal red wines to a sampling of small-batch vermouths and amaros. The shop also hosts winemakers from across the US, which gives customers an opportunity to learn from the pros.
When asked about some of her current favorites Hughes mentioned a “big, bold, bone-dry orange wine” from Artana Wines in the country of Georgia. The company is helmed by two sisters who took over their family vineyard from their parents in 2015 and converted it to produce 100% natural wines. It’s a story of tradition, evolution, and two women helping to revolutionize a male-dominated industry. Their story is one of the hundreds that Hughes loves to share, and part of what makes a trip to Bottle Bacchanal so special.
- Thursday, 3/9 – Lithe Spiritz Lizard tail Aperitivo Tasting (5-8 pm)
- Friday, 3/10 – Lost Republic bourbon and rye tasting (5-8 pm)
- Sunday, 3/12 – Astrada Bakery Pop-Up (12-2 pm)
- Friday, 3/17 – Freeland Spirits gin and bourbon tasting (5-8 pm)
- Wednesday, 3/22 – Accompani amaro tasting (5-8 pm)
- Friday, 3/24 – Bimini gin tasting (5-8 pm)
- Saturday, 3/25 – Shunka Shuto Japanese Whisky (2-5pm)
You can visit Bottle Bacchanal at 4126 18th Street in San Francisco.
Featured image: @bottlebacchanal via Instagram