11 East Bay restaurants selling prized, hard-to-find wines at retail prices

There has never been a better time to support your favorite local eateries by grabbing a bottle or two, and you can do so at prices that are hard to ignore.

A selection of wines from Great China in Berkeley.
Great China in Berkeley will offer its lauded wine list starting June 17, when it reopens for takeout and delivery. Photo: Great China

Now that California is allowing restaurants to sell alcohol to-go, several East Bay fine dining spots are opening their exclusive wine lists to the public and offering these bottled treasures at retail prices. Wine lovers can currently access a remarkable range of destined-for-restaurants, allocated wine — everything from hard-to-find indie darlings to exclusive high-end, limited production releases. There has never been a better time to support your favorite local eateries by grabbing a bottle or two, and you can do so at prices that are hard to ignore.

Here is a list of East Bay restaurants currently offering noteworthy wines at retail prices. If you know of others we’ve missed, leave a comment below.

Please note: Referenced wines are available while supplies last and are meant to be representative.

Restaurants with award-winning wine lists at retail pricing

A16 Rockridge

Shelley Lindgren can barely contain her enthusiasm for offering A16 Rockridge’s Wine Spectator award-winning list at retail. Owner and wine director at both the Rockridge and San Francisco A16 locations, Lindgren is offering some fantastic values on her order to-go wine list, including a 2017 Tyler Chardonnay ($30) and 2016 Edaphos Barbera ($18 alone or $29 for a bottle plus a margherita pizza). She is equally excited about A16’s custom sommelier services. “If you miss your somms, you don’t have to wait,” she said. “People don’t realize how accessible restaurant wine programs are now. We have lots of value-oriented wines and allocated wines we can curate, and we are happy to customize cases of wine at a comfortable price range.” A16 Rockridge, 5356 College Ave. (near Manila Avenue), Oakland


Chez Panisse

Although Chez Panisse is not currently open for dining, the Berkeley mainstay is selling farm boxes and pantry goods — including wine at retail prices — through an online shop. Offerings of first-rate wines change weekly, with recent selections such as a 2018 Broc Cellars Happī Chenin ($22), 2017 Green and Red Vineyard Zinfandel ($30) and a half-bottle of 2017 Les Chaumées Chassagne-Montrachet ($45). The online shop opens every Friday at noon but supplies are limited and sell out quickly. Orders are available for pickup Sunday between noon and two. Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave. (near Vine Street), Berkeley

Commis

The wine selection at Commis in Oakland.
The wine list at Commis in Oakland garnered a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2019. Photo: Commis

As the beverage director at Commis, Oakland’s only Michelin two-star restaurant, Mark Guillaudeu has crafted a wine list impressive enough to garner a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2019. Now, he is making much of the list available at retail. Guillaudeu has curated more than two dozen retail-priced wines on his “Commis at home to go” beverage list. The lineup includes ridiculous values like a 2018 Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay ($23), and Guillaudeu’s recommendation, a “massively underappreciated, yet delicious” 2015 Kopfensteiner Ried Saybritz Blaufrankisch ($42). Wine lovers can also stock their cellars with any number of Commis’ prized wines, because, upon request, bottles from the full wine list are currently available at retail. Order wine to accompany Commis’ seasonal family-style meal for two by emailing Guillaudeu at mark@commisrestaurant.com, and it will be ready when you pick up dinner. Commis, 3859 Piedmont Ave. (between 40th St. and MacArthur Boulevard), Oakland

Great China

Great China, reopening June 17 for takeout and delivery, has long been known for its prized wine list. “We have a huge Burgundy following, and we have a lot of hard-to-get producers or wines that are in high demand,” said co-owner James Yu. “Our wines have always been listed at close to retail and some less than retail.” There are many treasures to choose from, but Yu points to notable selections like the 100-point 2012 Marcassin Chardonnay ($350), 2014 Jean-Claude Ramonet La Boudriotte 1er Cru ($150) and 2016 Schäfer-Fröhlich Felsenberg Riesling ($110). Yu said a “last call” list populated with under $50 bottles, all at retail, will be coming soon. Great China, 2190 Bancroft Way (at Fulton Street), Berkeley

Other restaurants with noteworthy wines at retail pricing

Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar

A selection of wines from Bartavelle in Berkeley. Photo: Bartavelle
Missing evenings at Bar Sardine? Try some of these quirky, yet tasty selections from Bartavelle to hold you over ’till you can hang out in the patio again. Photo: Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar

Bartavelle is making a select handful of to-go wines available for pickup. Like everything at Bartavelle, the wines are quirky yet tasty. Choices have recently included the Jo Landron Atmosphères Brut ($25), 2019 Philippe Tessier Cheverny Rosé ($26) and the 2019 Methode Sauvage Shasta-Cascade Red ($26). The best deal may be the Bar Sardine 3-bottle sampler pack ($88). The current offering, version #5, is an all-organic roundup consisting of the 2019 Martha Stoumen “Post Flirtation” white blend, 2019 Lalalu Rosé, and 2018 Daterra Viticultores “Portela Do Vento” Tinto. The fluctuating three-pack is the perfect choice for anyone missing the patio at Bartavelle’s Thursday-Friday evening wine bar; it comes with “a little Bar Sardine menu and a link to a playlist so you can pretend you’re hanging out with us.” Bartavelle Coffee and Wine Bar, 1603 San Pablo Ave. (at Cedar Street), Berkeley


Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar

Elizabeth Frumusa, owner and wine director of the favorite Glenview neighborhood Italian eatery, has been busy updating her Italian-focused takeout wine list. There are many excellent choices, several of which are sustainable, organic and biodynamic. Recent standout deals have included the 2018 Elena Walch Gewurztraminer ($28), an easy-drinking Rugiada Colline Novaresi Bianco ($23), and Frumusa’s recommendation, a limited-production 2018 Foradori Teroldego ($29). It should be noted that much of Frumusa’s wine list has always been offered for takeout at half off and will remain so once on-site dining returns. For the time being, call 510-336-1180 to order. Bellanico Restaurant & Wine Bar, 4238 Park Blvd. (at Wellington Street), Oakland

Belotti Ristorante

Belotti is making a sizable portion of its extensive Italian-focused wine list available online. Discounts vary depending on the cost of sourcing. Still, at last check, there were a handful of deals for the taking, including the 2018 “Balin” Ermanno Costa Chardonnay ($30) and rare bottles of 2016 Simone Scaletta Barbera d’Alba Superiore ($32) and 2016 Fumin “Esprit Follet” Crotta di Vegneron ($41). Belotti Ristorante, 5403 College Ave. (at Manila Avenue), Oakland

Brown Sugar Kitchen

A selection of wines from Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland.
Brown Sugar Kitchen is offering $25 to-go wines, all that pair nicely with fried chicken! Photo: Brown Sugar Kitchen

To complement her California-influenced soul food, Tanya Holland is offering several excellent $25 to-go wines. Of the dozen or so recently offered, there are a few notable steals like the 2017 Lúuma Chardonnay, 2016 Jeff Cohn Cellars “Smoke & Mirrors” Petite Sirah-Syrah-Zinfandel blend, and 2017 Brown Estate Chaos Theory proprietary blend. For something unexpected, Holland suggests the Roederer Estate Brut. “It’s a deal!” she said. “And it goes good with the fried chicken.” Brown Sugar Kitchen, 2295 Broadway (at 23rd Street), Oakland

Donato & Co.

If you’re looking for hard to find Italian wine, you will want to check out the offerings on the to-go list at Elmwood’s Donato & Co., where all selections are currently half price. The list includes some unusual gems including the organic orange 2015 Daniele Ricci Terre del Timorasso ($30) and 2016 Simon di Brazzan Ramato Pinot Grigio ($25). To place an order, email orders@donatoandco.com or call 510-838-1131. Donato & Co., 2635 Ashby Ave. (near College Avenue), Berkeley

La Marcha Tapas Bar

Spanish wine lovers — get thee to La Marcha.
Spanish wine lovers — get thee to La Marcha. The Berkeley tapas spot offers a large takeout list, including 20 wines for under $20. Photo: La Marcha Tapas Bar

Spanish wine lovers will want to check out the offerings at La Marcha Tapas Bar & Restaurant. Chef and owner Sergio Monleón has made a sizable list available through the online takeout wine shop. Monleón also recently rolled out 20 wines all under $20 and will soon be adding some rare, old sherries to the list. If you’re looking for something to go with tapas or paella, they have an excellent selection to choose from, including, recently, the 2010 Sant Gall Cabernet-Syrah blend ($15) to a 1997 Magaña Reserva ($85). Monleón recommends the 2016 Pago de los Capellanes Crianza Tempranillo, a favorite by-the-glass wine priced at $70 in-house and now $30 to-go. La Marcha Tapas Bar, 2026 San Pablo Ave. (near University Avenue), Berkeley

Marica

Every wine on Marica’s takeout list is an outstanding value, so it won’t be easy to choose among the dozen or so bottles offered. Of the many exceptional bargains at the College Avenue favorite, a few standouts include the 2019 Navarro Rosé ($22), 2016 Grgich Hills Chardonnay ($28) and 2015 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon ($70). To-go food and wine orders available online or by phone at 510-985-8388. Marica, 5301 College Ave. (at Bryant Avenue), Oakland

Jennifer Kaplan writes about sustainable food and wine, and teaches writing and food systems at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena.