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San Francisco wine shop to open in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Aug 16, 2016
UPDATE: Biondivino will take over the Town & Country Village space vacated on Aug. 23 by high-end bakery Tout Sweet Pâtisserie.

Biondivino, a popular 10-year-old Italian wine shop in San Francisco, is expanding to Palo Alto, owner Ceri Smith confirmed Tuesday.

She'll be opening her second outpost in a yet-to-be-announced location at Town & Country Village on El Camino Real, hopefully in October.

Biondivino offers what Smith calls a "living wine list" that reflects "all the wines that you would find at a great restaurant list, without being commercialized," she said in an interview. She opened Biondivino after working for several years with Italian-wine distributors and retailers and becoming frustrated that they valued recognizable brands over quality wines that served in top restaurants.

So at the shop, you’ll "food-friendly focused wines," many small producers and an emphasis on organic and biodynamic wines, Smith said. Biondivino's selection is almost entirely Italian, with few exceptions. (Smith said she’ll dabble in Austria or Spain, and also sells some French rosé and champagnes, but nothing from California.) They’re the kind of wines you would find at San Francisco Italian restaurants like A16, Acquerello and Quince, she said. Smith has also led the wine program for San Francisco’s Tosca Cafe for the last three years and previously did the same for Flour + Water.

Peruse the wines in Biondivino’s online shop here.

The name of the shop pays homage to Smith’s Italian great grandfather, Settimio Biondi. He came to San Francisco the day after the 1906 earthquake, and that year built some apartments on Mason and Green streets, Smith said. A century later, in 2006, Smith opened her shop close by on Green and Polk Street.

The Palo Alto store will be "almost identical” to the San Francisco original, Smith said. Her team is currently looking into licensing and regulations to see if they’ll be able to have tastings and possibly host food pop-ups, as they do in San Francisco.

Smith said they were drawn to Palo Alto as a hub of activity with "great restaurants" -- and ideal rosé weather.
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 +   4 people like this
Posted by Mallory West, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights,
on Aug 16, 2016 at 7:04 pm

I've been to Biondivino's little boutique in the city (it's just down the block from Saint Frank Coffee on Russian Hill), and while I think it's a great idea to just focus on Italian wines, I wonder if Ms. Smith's idea will travel well to the Town & Country Mall.

It's true that Beltramo's closing (sad, I know; Web Link) creates an opening for a full-service wine shop to compete with the still very good K&L Wines (Web Link), but I don't think a solely-Italian region focused shop will hold its own, especially in a mall shop rather than a stand-alone one.

With that said, good luck to them, and I look forward to stopping by their store soon.

 +   5 people like this
Posted by Michael Horne, a resident of another community,
on Aug 17, 2016 at 7:46 am

Ceri and her team have a very nice shop in SF, and their focus is refreshing since so many places just stock the ubiquitous Chianti, Brunello and Barolo wines. She is much more contemplative and focuses on what new Italian wines and bubbly that she thinks her clientele might really enjoy.

I didn't realize that Beltramo's had closed, and that is truly sad. You're right in that K&L is a formidable competitor, and covers global wines that really bring in the wine lovers. I'm familiar with competing with them with my online Italian wine shop ( in Los Gatos, and I'm sure Ceri will give it her best. Getting the word out about her new Biondivino will be the challenge.

Either way I'm happy I won't have to drive to the City to pick up a few bottles of Ceri's interesting Italian wines.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Our woes have been fixed, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm

So glad, because GOD KNOWS where you can buy a bottle of wine around here.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 23, 2016 at 10:51 am

I prefer to buy wines (and all products, for that matter) that are made locally, to cut down on fossil fuel use (shipping relatively heavy items over long distances) and ship traffic that disturbs marine life (I strongly recommend viewing the film "Sonic Sea"). Our consumer choices can make a difference.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Common sense, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 23, 2016 at 11:07 am

Good wines, where do I find thee? Let me count the ways (roughly north to south):

Weimax (especially), and the Wine Stop, in Burlingame
Draeger's, San Mateo (all three Draeger's locations have major full-service wine departments larger than some wine shops)
K & L, Redwood City
Draeger's, Menlo Park
Vin Vino Wine, Palo Alto
Draeger's, Los Altos
Artisan Wine Depot, Mountain View
The Wine Club, Santa Clara

"Wine geeks" throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties know about all these places -- Beltramo's wasn't unique, though it had a fine history and big range. (But when online wine buying began, Beltramos's management actually resisted embracing it, even as nearby competitor K&L pioneered the trend, to its credit and profit). Beltramos's closing may have disappointed a few regular customers, but they can still get similar products and service, even nearby (between K&L and Draeger's Menlo Park, whose offerings have overlapped those of Beltramo's for decades), not to mention the other wine shops listed above. I think some credit should also go to the large neighborhood supermarkets (Whole Foods, Safeway, Nob Hill, Cost Plus), which, though they lack the expert customer wine advice and full range of the good specialty wine shops, maintain well-chosen selections with good values, and in Safeway's case, regularly put them on sale.

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