Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 31, 2007 01:18 PM

Best Berkeley / Oakland wine shops

Starting a new topic as there's nothing up to date and complete.

I buy more at Vintage Berkeley than anywhere else. The new Wine Mine is very good.

Spanish Table
1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

House of Bagels
5030 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

Vintage Berkeley
2113 Vine St, Berkeley, CA 94709

Oddlots Wine Shop
1025 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
1605 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

Paul Marcus Wines
5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

Premier Cru
1011 University Ave, Berkeley, CA

Solano Cellars Bistro & Wine
1580 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There's also the Vino mini-chain:

    1786 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

    6319 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

    4027 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

    Vino! (CLOSED)
    1885 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I've had really good service at the Vino on College, they've suggested some great wines to me that have made it into my regular rotation. Paul Marcus can be a little more spotty: some of the people who work there really know their wine, but some people don't, or aren't particularly helpful.

      1. re: JasmineG

        It also depends on whether the person shares or understands your taste.

        Paul Marcus gets a lot of wines from Oliver McCrum, and one of OMcC's employees even works at PM sometimes, so that's a plus for me.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I love Paul Marcus Wines in Market Hall on College. They don' t have a huge selection, but I've NEVER had anything that wasn't really good.

          Recently, they've had a reasonably priced Muscadet which was fab. They've also always had a fine selection of relatively cheap cotes du rhone and wines from Languedoc.

          PM was also the first place I ever saw Greuner Veltliner (sp?) - about 5 years ago. Greuve (accent ague here)! Sigh, I remember how cheap it was.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Mmm, it's not so much about sharing taste or not at Paul Marcus -- some of the people who work there are just rude and unfriendly (some of them are great, though!), and I really don't like going to buy wine and getting attitude.

            1. re: JasmineG

              Yeah, there is at least one person who acts as if you've interrupted his dinner or his break. Mostly, though, the staff is great.

              1. re: oakjoan

                Haha, I know exactly who you are talking about! But yeah with the exception of him and one other person, the staff there is really nice. I think that I just tend to happen to go when the bad people are around.

      2. Premier Cru specializes in fancy French and other European wines and high-end California wines, biggest selection in the East Bay. Comparable to K&L in SF, though the staff's not as helpful.

        Kermit Lynch is an importer / wholesaler with only the one retail shop, which carries only its own wines. No California wines. They don't discount except the usual break on cases, so sometimes you can find some of their wines a bit cheaper elsewhere.

        Vintage Berkeley, Oddlots, and Wine Mine are more value-focused. Oddlots is almost exclusively imports.

        Solano Cellars is now owned by the Vintage Berkeley guys but has somewhat different stock to cater to existing customers.

        Spanish Table, unbeatable selection of Spanish and Portugese wines.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Where have you found Kermit Lynch wines at discount?

          1. re: dordogne

            Most frequently at San Francisco Wine Trading Company (former Mr. Liquor).

        2. Vintage Berkeley is giving North Berkeley Wine good competition when it comes to value priced imports.

          North Berkeley Wine Co
          1601 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA 94709

          2 Replies
          1. re: PorkButt

            North Berkeley Wine was making no effort to compete in the value price range last time I went in there.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              When NBW was on Shattuck, I could count on them to have inexpensive and good bottles from places I like such as Corbieres and Minervois, but I stopped going by after the move. Those wines were only a small part of the stock anyways.

              Since VB is a bit closer to me, it gets the nod.

          2. I think that about covers it . . . unless you want to add the Beverages, & more!
            stores in Albany and Oakland (see below).

            FWIW #1: I rarely go to BevMo for wines, and rarely shop at Vino!, too, for that matter(unless I'm already on 4th St.), as I find other stores have a better selection and better prices -- at least as far as MY palate is concerned.

            FWIW #2: My top five in the Berkeley/Oakland area are (in approximate order): Vintage Berkeley, Paul Marcus, Kermit Lynch, Spanish Table, and North Berkeley.


            Beverages & More
            525 Embarcadero W, Oakland, CA 94607

            Beverages & More
            836 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

            5 Replies
            1. re: zin1953

              I didn't mention Bevmo because they're pretty lame as far as both price and selection.

              Cost Plus in Oakland sometimes has good buys.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                They also seem to have better storage conditions than Cost Plus in Marin.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I don't disagree -- just trying to be thorough.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I've had some wine and beer from Bevmo that seemed suspiciously mis-stored. A couple of destroyed bottles of wine and a funky six-pack of beer. Purchased at different time. All tasted like they spent too much time in a hot warehouse.

                2. I drove around the Telegraph/51st area for half an hour the other day, looking for the wine warehouse a friend had told me was nearby. Never found it -- so thanks for the pointer to Wine Mine. I'll head back on down...

                  Scanning others' responses, I'll add: (1) Vino! on Solano closed some months ago; (2) Cost Plus in Oakland has significantly cut back on the floor space it gives to wine ... I was there the other day, and left with only a couple of bottles instead of the mixed case I usually buy. Lots of cutbacks in the sub-$11 range, which is where they've excelled. Hope the same isn't true in the Marin store... (3) It's masterful understatement to say that the staff at Premier Cru is less helpful than at K&L ... although they don't seem as deliberately rude and offputting as they did in the day, at their original Piedmont Ave. store. (4) Vintage Berkeley is a great addition to the North Berkeley nabe ... lots of interesting choices in the $15-$20 range, esp. among the imports. Not a precise replacement for North Berkeley Wines, which moved out from its cozy shop around the corner several years ago -- no Texier horizontals or single-vineyard Macons -- but a never-fail stop for an intriguing bottle or three.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jonking

                    Wine Mine is sort of warehouse-looking. It's easy to miss--down the side of the building to the south of Leo's Pro Audio. When it's open he puts a big wine bottle sign by the sidewalk.

                    Premier Cru is primarily mail-order. The retail operation seems like a bit of an afterthought.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      >>> Premier Cru is primarily mail-order. The retail operation seems like a bit of an afterthought. <<<

                      It wasn't originally. John Fox's idea in moving from Piedmont Ave. in Oakland to Emeryville was to increase floor space for his sizeable retail business (most days, you could barely walk inside the store; its narrow aisles were packed with people and cases stacked nearly to ceiling). As things turned out, however, the internet sales took off, and walk-ins decreased to a mere trickle.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Yeah, found it on Tuesday by spotting the big bottle sign. Enjoyable visit, friendly proprietor ... I picked up a mixed case for not a lot of money. Happy to add it to my rounds...