Farewell to Soif Wine Bar
Since its opening 20 years ago, Soif wine bar and merchants has attracted oenophiles and foodies from across the region, ready to be wowed by a sophisticated interior, eclectic wine list and innovative cuisine. And they were impressed, so much so that wine bar and restaurant, then retail store, then full bar, became the go-to watering hole and hangout for everyone you knew. So many dates, wine appointments, serious dinners, winemaker classes and romances have taken place in this place with high ceilings and ocher walls. Then the wine and beer extensions to the liquor license, and the reinvented bar and wine store in the summer of 2016. Ah les chefs – opening chef Michael Knowles, then Chris Avila, Santos Majano, Mark Denham, and Tom McNary. The countless winemaker dinners and upper house wine classes taught with wit and granular detail by the wine whisperer John Locke.
But as the owner Patrice Boyle admitted last week, “Change is good, also inevitable.” Yes, the doors are closing at the site of countless New Year’s Eve celebrations, but another door will soon open at the Walnut Avenue location.
Determined to now put her energy into The post office, the Seabright Italian dining room she opened a few years after Soif, Boyle will step back from the astronomical task of running two full-service restaurants. She tells me she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband and traveling.
“La Posta will continue in its current form,” she assures me, “hopefully it gets better and better. And yes I will be in the mix there. In many ways, it will be a return to my initial concept for Soif, which was an in-depth exploration and celebration of wine.
We can expect a new restaurant with exciting cuisine on Walnut Avenue. During this time the Soif wine bar and merchants the retail store will remain open. “That includes the Terroiriste Wine Club, tastings and winemaker takeovers,” says Boyle. “Alexis Carr and Dede Eckhardt will continue to welcome, educate and supply those who are thirsty”.
Director of Soif wines from 2007 to 2017, Birichino cellar co-founder John Locke is also optimistic about the future of the Walnut Avenue site. Hired to headline and grow Soif’s wine program after his time at Bonny Doon Vineyard, Locke calls Soif’s accomplishments “20 great years.” He praises Boyle’s ability to attract accomplished people who have helped her realize her vision for the wine bar and restaurant. Along with Boyle’s passion and stamina, the popular downtown spot was staffed by a top executive chef, Santos Moreno, in its heyday, as well as “strong staff, fantastic crew”, Locke recalled.
People flocked to Soif largely because of the extensive wine list, which changed nightly. “We favored lighter, eclectic wines,” rather than a long list of Chardonnays, which tended to pop up everywhere else. “People came to see us because they were able to taste lots of different wines,” he notes. Every Soif regular remembers savoring the nightly list by the glass of every corner of winemaking – the Golan Heights, unpronounceable Hungarian estates, little corners of Piedmont, Catalonia and New Zealand. When the liquor bar arrived it was exciting to see what exotic mixology we could taste. But I still carry a torch for the sense of discovery offered by this incomparable wine list.
Hello to these two delicious decades! Who knows? Perhaps the Soif space will continue to fulfill everyone’s dream of a great seafood restaurant.