Tastes Like Grape: Vancouver’s hot spots for natural wine

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      By Martina Maude

      Tastes Like Grape is a new wine column by self-taught enthusiast Martina Maude, who runs the pop-up wine club Maude Sips.

      It’s official: Juice Bar, a true hidden gem of Gastown, is closing its doors. Although the announcement reassured fans that a new iteration will open in the coming months, I can’t fight the feeling of distress. What local supplier of “juice” can the pet-nat boys and Tabi-wearing girlies visit in the meantime? 

      That little spot holds a special place in my heart. I went to Juice Bar during my very first visit to Vancouver back in 2021. When I pulled up with my friends, my palms were admittedly sweaty. What the heck was a natural wine bar? Why the distinction? What did it mean, and did everyone know but me? 

      If you’re like that old version me, most likely your understanding of wine is “red, white, and corked.” Which is okay! But my own perspective wildly shifted once I became an official Vancouver resident a year after that first Juice Bar visit. I’ve come to appreciate the complexities and depth involved in natural winemaking—it’s a celebration of honouring tradition and intensifying flavours without leaning on man-made this and chemically-modified that.

      What I came to realize is that funky, murky (and in certain places, controversial) bottles of natural or low-intervention wine are something to seek out. In this city, however, it’s not only the bottles you have to search for—it’s also the environment. One that’s dialed-in just enough.

      As an amateur wine drinker and self-proclaimed restaurant connoisseur, I’ve pulled together a shortlist of places that aim to do just that. They’re not too serious but not too casual; each has its own subtle hints of sex, nondescript drums of unruliness, and balanced aromas of florals and fries. The common thread: they’ve got some damn good natural wine.

      Is That French?

      Located in the closest proximity to the old Juice Bar, no natural wine list is complete without a nod to Is That French? in Blood Alley. The list here features wines exclusively from the interior of BC. If you’re new to naturals, try any one of the pet-nats; similar to a Champagne, a pet-nat has a slight fizz. 


      Dachi is a truly underrated restaurant and wine bar located in the Hastings-Sunrise area. I’m often taken aback when people haven’t yet heard of this neighbourhood watering hole. Everyone on staff provides fantastic recommendations via their own extensive knowledge and selection of rare bottles. Give this place a try if you want an adventurous trip.

      La Fabrique St-George

      La Fabrique St-George is truly unique. This wine bar’s cozy interior, in the centre of Mount Pleasant, is something to behold. They produce their own natural wines from BC-picked grapes by foot-stomping and then naturally fermenting them in massive ancient-style clay qvevri. Treat yourself: my two favourites are the Piquette Forte 3 and Sparkling 3. Plus, they have everything you need for an epic charcuterie plate to go with your wine.

      Bonus: Wildflower Bakeshop & Cafe (Port Alberni)

      Do yourself a favor and stop into Wildflower in Port Alberni on your way to Tofino. From a wife and husband duo, Wildflower is a bakeshop and restaurant whose standards for quality are making a huge impact. Not only can you find delicious food—you can also pair it with off-sale bottles of natural beauties. If you’re lucky and it’s in stock, pick up anything available from the Okanagan’s Plot Wines. 

      I’ll miss you, Juice Bar. But at least with these other spots, I’ll be well sipped until you return.