Updated: May 31, 2020
Sometimes you just want to sink (or swim) into a nice glass of wine after a long work week. I know I do! I look forward to the days where I’m off on Friday at 4 p.m. and the early weekend adrenaline kicks in and I think to myself “the world is my oyster, where do I want to go tonight?” If you’re anything like me, it’s usually a wine bar, 80's club, or inviting friends over - but this blog is about wine bars so we’ll stick to that ;) There’s just something to be said about swirling your wine about, sniffing the aromas, and deciphering the complex flavor profiles. It just feels good and, let’s face it, a tad “boujee”. I love it! Thankfully, there are some stellar wine bars in the Claremont Village where they’ll make a wine expert out of you by the end of the night. Here are some gems that I recommend so you can have your own “boujee” wine experiences.
Packing House Wine. This wine shop/bar/restaurant is easily the top 5 reasons I go into the Claremont Village at all. It is a fully functioning wine shop with a carefully curated selection that never disappoints. Sal, the owner of Packing House Wines and Sommelier, can tell you about every wine bottle in that shop, the vineyard it came from, and who their family is! In other words he, along with his capable staff, will gladly recommend wines that are preferable to your palate, budget, region, and varietal. It’s a functioning restaurant too, so get some small bites or appetizers and stay while. They offer wine flights and also have a theme of the wines they are featuring every weekend. My favorite was when they featured all wines from the Paso Robles region and when they featured syrah and shiraz from various countries. If you’re lucky, you’ll get Rosa to pour your wines and she will tell you what to expect in taste and aroma with every wine she pours.
We Olive & Wine Bar. This cozy and charming wine bar is a perfect place to have a low-key wine night with your date, friend, or on your own. It’s located in the heart of the Claremont Village on Harvard Ave. and is easy to pass on the street if you aren't paying attention. At first glance it simply looks like a wine and olive oil shop if you’re window shopping but as you enter and walk down the narrow hall, you’ll find an entire sitting room where others are chit chatting and casually enjoying a glass of wine or two. Prior to opening in January 2020, We Olive was completely renovated on the inside giving it a very modern, sleek, and updated feel. What I like most is the cozy outdoor seating area with soft, ambient stringed lights, perfect for a weeknight dinner date at sundown. Speaking of weeknights, I recommend going on “Wine-Wednesdays” where all glasses of wine are 50% off.
They have a carefully and thoughtfully curated selection of wine and what I love the most is you can build your own wine flights. Oh, and did I mention their olive oil? I mean it’s only the name of their establishment! While at their grand opening, they provided a yummy olive oil flight (a first for me) and I was hooked ever since. Their artisan bread with EVOO and aged balsamic is a must try since We Olive gets their bread from Creme Bakery so you know it’s going to be fresh AF. They have a modest selection of food as in small appetizers, flat breads, sandwiches, and charcuterie. They’re also really dedicated to providing excellent customer service and their #1 priority is that you’re satisfied with your wine choice. If you get Teri to serve you, you know you’ll be taken care of – she is a delight.
Magnolia Wine Bar. If you want to venture outside of the Claremont Village but still stay in Claremont, Magnolia Wine Bar is a quaint, unassuming wine bar off the beaten path. When I go-I typically sit at the bar top and the servers are always so gracious enough to chat me up for a minute or two. Overall, it has a really relaxed and slow pace vibe to it-perfect for a quiet night with a friend or partner. This is also a wine shop so if you fall in love with the wine you’re drinking, you can leave home with a bottle. The place greets you with soft lighting along the window and shelves of wine throughout. These photos will give you an idea of the ambiance.
I was particularly impressed with their options for white wines like gewurztraminer and albarino and I am not even a white wine drinker! I really come for the deep, bold, “punch you in the face with flavor” red wines- which they always deliver on choosing red wines from the Paso Robles, Napa, and Santa Ynez regions. If white or reds won’t do it for you, they also offer dessert wine, sake, and bubbly.
What is the most unique about Magnolia Wine Bar are the events that happen in their adjacent space. You can rent out an entire room in the wine bar to host your own celebration, work event, or even a party (heyooo!). I once attended a Young Professionals Networking event in this particular space and had a lovely time meeting fellow “Claremonters” and professionals from the area.
There you have it. The 3 best wine bars in Claremont (in my opinion, of course). I have had many great conversations and fond memories at these wine bars and would love to hear yours too in the comments. If I left out any other great wine spots let’s hear about that, too.
Thanks for reading and tata for now!
Photography Credits: All photos were taken by the author of this blog.