Believe it when restaurateur Yaron Milgrom says some of his wines come from vintners “who are literally stomping the grapes themselves.”
The owner of San Francisco’s Local Mission Eatery is so devoutly committed to all things local, natural and homemade that even his wine and beer lists reflect his dogged ideology. So he features only California wines, for example, that are “organic,” “pesticide free” and “biodynamic.”
Needless to say, his wine list is brief.
“ Natural wine from California is in and of itself a short wine list,” says Milgrom, who generally features about a dozen reds and a dozen whites.
The wines come from small, dedicated vintners, many of whom Milgrom has come to know when they hand-deliver their products to his restaurant. Local Mission Eatery’s wine list changes frequently, as its offerings are often produced in highly limited quantities.
“We have some wines where 10 cases are made for the entire year,” Milgrom says.
During our visit with friends to Local Mission Eatery, we ordered (several) bottles of 2008 Paul Mathew Pinot Noir ($49) and 2009 Clos Saron Carte Blanche ($40) to complement the variety of meat, seafood and vegetable dishes our large group ordered.
I enjoyed both wines as I drank them with my apple and potato soup and Tomales Bay clams. But the real fun came in reading about the wines afterwards.
Paul Mathew Vineyards, I learned from its website, “is committed to low input winemaking using indigenous yeast and Malolactic bacteria…. This process is much slower and more time consuming than traditional commercial winemaking. Low input winemaking showcases the fruit and the site.”
I confess, I have no idea what Malolactic bacteria is or does, but I can tell that this winemaker is passionate about his work.
I was also charmed by the earnestness of Clos Saron’s owner Gideon Bienstock, who runs the winery with his wife, Saron. He says: “We have decided to dive into this dubious financial adventure out of many other-than-commercial reasons: love of wine (especially Pinot Noir), love of outdoors work (especially viticulture), the artistic challenge (we both had artistic aspirations and education), and our wish to do something productive in our lives.”
After reading this, I felt even better for having consumed so many glasses of Bienstock’s Carte Blanche.
Lest I forget, Milgrom also offers a short list of microlocal beers (seven to be precise) from micro-micro breweries. San Francisco’s Anchor is the biggest-named beer on the list. And from there, the California beermakers — Trumer (Berkeley), Sudwerk (Davis), Odonata (Sacramento) and Napa Smith (Napa) — get smaller and more esoteric. Local Mission Eatery offers different style beers from each producer, such as a Trumer pilsner ($4), a Sudwerk Hefe Weizen ($4) and a Napa Smith pale ale ($4).
“We wanted to keep the ethics the same for our wine and beers,” says Milgrom, referring to the eatery’s local, natural and handcrafted credo.
“Mission accomplished,” I say.
Local Mission Eatery
3111 24th Street
San Francisco, California 94110