Are you going to San Francisco? California Grapes holds test-run of Beijing wine shop

By Jim Boyce

The polished cement floor is meant to evoke San Francisco Bay, the large round lights to evoke the Golden Gate Bridge, the shelves loaded with wine from California to evoke… a desire to open a lot of bottles, at least if last Saturday night was any indication.

California Grapes, a retail shop that will soon open in the Sanlitun Soho complex in Beijing with as many as 300 different products, held a test run last weekend. The official launch should happen in the next week or so and will mean yet another wine bar in an area that has witnessed a steady stream of newcomers over the past few months, including Veloce, Cru, The Loop and Everwines.

I wrote about this wine shop project in March, in this interview with China-based Frank Yglesias of California Grapes International. He says the aim is to keep things simple and accessible, says Yglesias. Skids loaded with boxes of wines serve as table tops, a long and simple white-topped bar will allow imbibers to check wine color, and there are plans to have about 15 wines by the glass.

Bottles start at rmb65 for the label Back Story. I enjoyed the sparkling wine from Domaine Carneros, while the flavored bubbly from Weibel was popular. Flavors include almond, raspberry, pomegranate and peach, a bottle costs ~rmb100, and this stuff might be of interest to the city’s bartenders. So too might the Rock Sake from California that is carried by the shop.

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