Thank goodness for the amazing Ceri Smith (above), owner of one of my favorite wine shops in the world, Biondivino in San Francisco, and soon-to-be proprietor of Et Al., a “wine salon” around the corner from her (literally) wonderful store.
Goodness because her wines are so thoughtfully chosen and reflect an aesthetic that so many of us embrace and aspire to; goodness because her store and her soon-to-be-opened wine salon are friendly havens and refuge for those fleeing the Babylon of America’s consumerist hegemony; and goodness because she is one of only a handful of American wineshop owners who have remained true to their mission of sharing unadulterated passion for wine (while others are trying to be “as big as U.S. steel” and “are opening soon in Vegas and Hong Kong”).
In this series of posts devoted to my trip to the Bay Area (Eric Lecours in Redwood City; Shelley Lindgren at A16 SF; and David Lynch at St. Vincent SF), I’ve tried to feature the superb and impeccable professionalism of the restaurateurs and wine professionals who populate our nation’s leading food and wine community (stay tuned for the last post tomorrow, btw, on the food and wine punk rock scene in SF).
Ceri is the embodiment of that unwavering commitment to excellence, that unflagging collegiality, and that unflinching spirit.
As we sat and chatted in the space that is to become her new “wine salon” dubbed Et Al. (above), we talked about her Annie Liebovitz-inspired campaign to combat the Italian government’s campaign to censor the expression “natural wine” (she plans to ask Alice Feiring and Lou Amdur to pose nude with a sign reading, “I drink wines naturally”); we traded notes on our favorite bottlings of Aglianico; and she told me she will be serving Georgian wines by the glass in traditional earthenware cups in her new wine salon.
Beyond the work ethic and the sensibility, the thing that unites all of professionals I’ve profiled in recent days is their unbridled curiosity. And I can’t think of any wineshop in the U.S. where boundless inquisitiveness and commercial success align so seamlessly. The thing that impresses me so much about Ceri and her shop and her new restaurant is how she has managed to expand her business in a time of financial challenges and restraint, all the while staying true to her mission, her passion, and her personal interests. Thank goodness for that.
Ceri will ship nearly anywhere in the U.S. When the weather cools down (and allows for wine shipping), give her a budget to work with and let her know what you like/need to drink. Every year, Tracie P and I get a mixed case from her and we’re always thrilled and informed by her selections. You won’t be disappointed.