| Yield Is Green Out In Dogpatch
By George McConnell Sep 16, 2007
Chris Tavelli and Celine Guillou’s new venture out in San Francisco’s historic Dogpatch district mirrors the changes occurring both in the neighborhood and their industry. It’s a venture in green, and like the neighborhood, it’s a blend of something old and something new.
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“We are not aware of anyone else doing what we do, certainly not in the Bay Area,” said Guillou.
Last year they opened Yield Wine Bar, but unlike others of its genre, their wine list is exclusively “green”.
“We consider green any and all wines that are made from grapes organically or biodynamically grown,” she said.
Even given those narrow parameters, their current wine list totals nearly 60 selections from both domestic and international wineries, including France, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Austria, among others. And their list will continue to grow because more vintners in the United States and around the world are engaging in environmentally sound viticulture, according to Guillou.
“The grape is untouched, and it is a robust and better grape. I think it is more flavorful,” she said.
Prior to opening Yield, Tavelli was the wine director for Millenium Restaurant in Union Square. He hails from Mendocino where he began his career working in his parent’s restaurant. Guillou worked downtown as a litigation attorney.
Both are wine connoisseurs and aficionados of green wine, and they had been thinking of opening a wine bar. Their partnership began soon after they met through a mutual friend. Planning began in 2004, and it took them two years to decide on a location, obtain all of the necessary permits and design the interior. They opened in August 2006.
“We were aiming for something small. It wasn’t an easy process, but we really wanted to do this project. It succeeded only because we persevered,” said Guillou.
They chose Dogpatch because they wanted someplace a little bit different, she said.
Guillou is a native New Yorker and likes the area because it reminds her of some of the neighborhoods back home.
You’d be hard pressed to find Dogpatch listed in a city tour guide. Although one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods - it survived the ’06 quake and many of the buildings date from the Gold Rush era - its location lends it to obscurity. Roughly nine square blocks, it is bounded by Mariposa Street to the north and 23rd Street to the south. Freeway 280 serves as the western boundary and on the east is Illinois Street and Pier 70. Sometimes called the central waterfront, it is filled with shipyards, warehouses, and canneries.
Just a few years ago, a decision to start a business in Dogpatch might have raised a few eyebrows. But now, with Muni Metro’s new T line running down Third Street and Mission Bay just two stops away, the ‘hood is undergoing a revival and looking a bit more up and coming these days.
“We get a lot of artists and architects who live in the area as customers,” she said.
The definition of biodynamic and organic wine is complex and can be confusing, said Guillou. Biodynamic wine comes from grapes grown on property where the entire environment is involved in the process, not just the vines. The whole farm is a closed, self-nourishing system.
But wine produced from organically certified grapes cannot receive organic certification if the preservative, sulfite, is added, and there’s the rub.
“Many of the wines we serve are made from certified organically grown grapes, but are not certified organic wines due to the sulfite prohibition,” she said.
Medlock Ames, a small Sonoma vintner featured by Yield, received their organic certification last year, and according to Kenneth Rochford, the general manager, it represents
a growing trend.
“There’s a lot of interest. Farming organically brings a common sense perspective to the business. It’s the way they used to farm many years ago. It forces you to try harder because there are no shortcuts. It increases the value of the ranch, and it also gives you peace of mind because essentially you are the stewards of the land,” he said.
The wines selected for Yield are obtained through distributors and some come direct from the vintners. To ensure that the wines offered are produced organically or biodynamically, Guillou said a great deal of her time is spent on the computer researching wineries.
“It’s a three year process to get organic certification. It’s a different quality and makes the wine better definitely” said Rochford.
“We named it Yield, because of its reference to the agriculture aspect and to the term yield used at harvest time. It is a reference to earth and where wine comes from,” said Guillou.
Yield Wine Bar is located at 2490 Third Street at 22nd. Their hours are 530P to Midnight Monday - Saturday. Visit www.yieldsf.com or call 415-401-8984 for more information.
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