Northern California Things to do , San Francisco things to do, Writer, Travel Writer,

415 Taylor Street, 415 771-2887; Website:

“We taste everything and, before we buy it all staff have to love it.” This business philosophy drives what wine is sold, according to John Sumners, the general manager.

This wine exchange specializes in small California producers from Napa and Sonoma Counties to Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills, and Monterey County. Small producers baby the wine making process. Weather in the northern, hot end of Napa Valley creates different flavors from the cool southern valley. Each mile produces a different character. There are 100 different profiles of Cabernet depending on soil types and winery location.

“80 -85% of our stock, you’ll only find here or at the winery for their wine club. Small producers baby the wine-making process and give unique, focused expression to their wine.”

The Napa Valley Winery Exchange is on the tour circuit because they always offer something new. “Many wines debut here. Since small companies are a specialty, often, there is only enough for the California market.  We are their first big supporter and they are very loyal.”

When Japanese tourists come to San Francisco, many stay at the nearby Nikko and Hilton Hotels. They are the other huge market for the Napa Valley Winery Exchange. Americans stop in looking for discoveries no one knows about, however, one-third of sales go to Japanese, here to buy prestige.

The exchange gets a “healthy allocation” of Opus One 2000 and 2001 that sells in the upper $200’s per bottle.  Japanese tourists buy 100% of the store’s lot and send it home. In case you are wondering, it costs $125 to ship a case of wine to Japan.

When you visit the Napa Valley Winery Exchange, you will be quizzed on your taste preference like a financial planner fact finds when gauging a client’s risk tolerance. You will then be presented with options based on your answers.

Hundreds of repeat customers call every year. “We know their style.”

They say, “Just send me something you know I’ll like.”

“We get to show them more amazing, lights out wine.” Mr. Sumners says.

“We’ve been here since 1988. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet Ron Sciandri, who drives his pickup in from Napa County to deliver his extraordinary wine.”

There’s no tasting, but you’ll want to check out this store for the education and a chance to buy and try something exceptional.