Oakland natural wine bar the Punchdown is opening in Sebastopol – San Francisco Chronicle
The Punchdown, the popular Oakland natural wine bar, is expanding. Owners D.C. Looney and Lisa Costa are working on opening a second location in Sebastopol’s Barlow complex in March.
The new Punchdown will be one of the only spots in Sonoma County dedicated to natural wines specifically, though Sebastopol is slated to get another one soon, called the Redwood. Natural wine shop Miracle Plum, in Santa Rosa, recently closed.
Looney and Costa moved to Sebastopol from Oakland in early 2022 after having a baby. “It was inevitable that we were going to start a spot somewhere up here,” Looney said. When they learned about an opening at the Barlow, in what was formerly a Tibetan furniture store, they jumped. The Barlow is home to a number of other wine businesses, including Kosta Browne Winery, Pax Wines and Region, a tasting room representing multiple wine producers.
The wine selection will be similar to what customers can find at the Punchdown in Oakland, which was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award in 2022. The bar has a diverse selection of low-intervention wines from around the world, especially Europe, and is known for having approachable service that welcomes natural-wine novices. (Many of the bottles the Punchdown stocks are “zero-zero,” the most extreme form of natural winemaking in which nothing at all is added or removed, but its selection is not exclusively zero-zero.) The Sebastopol location, however, will have more shelves for retail wine sales. The couple hope to sell bottles from all of Sonoma County’s natural winemakers, but they believe there’s also a demand for imported wines that aren’t as easily available in Wine Country.
This isn’t Looney and Costa’s first time living in Sonoma County. In 2007, they met while working harvest jobs in Healdsburg. Both already had an interest in natural wine, but “we totally felt that at the time there wasn’t really our kind of wine here — the stuff that we wanted to drink,” Looney said.
But they sensed that “it was only a matter of time,” he said, before someone would fill that gap by opening a natural wine bar in Sonoma County. They figured it might as well be them.
As in Oakland, there will be a small food menu with items like cheese, charcuterie and conservas. The Barlow space won’t have a full kitchen, so some of the housemade items — like dips and pate — may be prepped in the original Punchdown kitchen.
Right now, they’re building out the space, converting reclaimed redwood slabs into tables and waiting on kitchen equipment to arrive. …….
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