Richmond resident starts a wine club / City pumps its breaks on hotel purchase

It's Wednesday, September 8.

Hey there, San Francisco.

Andrew Garsetti, the founder of Uncle Andy’s Wine Closet, wants to be your weird wine uncle.

The thirty-year-old Richmond resident had extra time on his hands at the start of the pandemic and noticed a couple of trends. Namely, people were drinking more and food (and drink) delivery was taking off. So Garsetti, who works in wine PR, thought up a side project that hit both sweet spots: a mail-order wine club (with a fun-loving name) that brings bottles to doorsteps. 

“Uncle Andy is the kind of the weird uncle that you have who has a good taste in wine and you see him once every few months and you have a good time with him,” Garsetti said in a recent conversation. “[He’s] jovial and approachable and is not trying to be too didactic with wine.”

Here’s how it works. Uncle Andy’s Wine Closet offers subscriptions in two simple themes. The “Keepin’ it Classic” club includes wines made from traditional grapes, while the “Left Field Gems” club offers more unexpected tastes. Each club has two price points, either $45 or $65 a month. Set your budget, choose your style, and Garsetti does the rest, including personally delivering wine each month to Bay Area customers. (If you live outside the Bay, he’ll ship your wine for free. But for now, you’ll need to live in California to get wine from Uncle Andy’s due to license constraints.) 

Fun food pairings and two recipes–one “regional” and one “Andy’s wild card”–also come with every bottle. And don’t forget the Spotify playlists, which Garsetti personally curates. 

“[Uncle Andy’s] is a way to introduce people who are a little reticent or tentative in their wine journey, to get them easily integrated into the world of wine,” said Garsetti. “It's meant to be kind of lightly educational, but mostly a light-hearted, fun way to get people into wine who don't have a lot of experience with it.”

Even without a physical location, there were plenty of surprises as Garsetti spun up the business.

“I was expecting that I could house all the wine in my apartment,” he said. But, as it turns out, you can’t sell alcohol from home. It took nearly a year to obtain both warehouse space and the licensing necessary to properly store and ship wine. 

Finally, this past April, Uncle Andy’s Wine Closet opened for business online, and Garsetti posted flyers in busy areas of San Francisco to get the word out (which is how we first heard of the project). 

“I think people tend to have a very narrow view on what wine can be,” said Garsetti, whose customer base over recent months has grown beyond immediate friends and family. “My greatest joy is giving somebody a wine that they don't expect.”

Story by Natalie Mead

Check out Uncle Andy’s wine club options here. And follow Uncle Andy’s Wine Closet on Instagram to keep tabs on his future wine offerings and events. 

And with that…onto some news

SFUSD has a dashboard to track Covid cases since the city’s public schools reopened on August 16, and so far among 62,800 staff members and students, 221 have tested positive. As Dr. Jeanne Noble, the director of COVID Response Emergency Department at UCSF, told reporter C.W. Nevius recently, “The test positivity rate within SFUSD is 0.3%, lower than the surrounding SF community despite the fact that 5-11 year-olds are unvaxed.”

Still, as the Examiner’s Ida Majadad reports, “Behind many of these cases is an administrator-turned-contact tracer racing against time to prevent an outbreak…[And] staff at San Francisco Unified School District campuses say they are overwhelmed investigating cases on top of operating schools and are not trained public health experts.”

The city had plans to purchase the Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in Japantown and convert it into 131 units of permanent supportive housing, but as the Chronicle’s Trisha Thandani reports, “after droves of neighbors complained about the proposal,” San Francisco officials are pumping the breaks. 

“With so many people living on our streets we are committed to moving quickly to buy hotels,” Mayor Breed’s spokesperson told the Chronicle. “But we also will listen to the community, hear their concerns, and try to incorporate their feedback, which is what we’re doing now.” 

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Head of Product Marketing at Hex / SF or Remote / More info here.

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Quick bits: 

  • 🔫 The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to prohibit the sale or possession of “ghost guns,” pushing forward legislation that would make either an offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or jail time. If signed into law by Mayor Breed, it would be the first ghost gun ban in California. (Examiner

  • 🖼 A new, no-admission museum called the ​​Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco is coming to the Dogpatch (at 901 Minnesota Street) next summer with plans to exhibit rising “local and international artists, as well as to programming that can be created quickly in response to current events.” (Datebook

  • 🥃 On Wednesday, the Chronicle released its list of top 19 cocktail bars in San Francisco. Hot spots include Junior, Lost & Found, Linden Room, Third Rail, and White Cap. (Chronicle)

  • 🎹 “Flower Piano,” an event that places pianos across the Botanical Garden for professionals and local passersby to play, is returning to Golden Gate Park from September 17 to 21. Here’s the list of planned programming for the event. (SFist

  • 🚘 The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is considering charging visitors $3 an hour (with a max of $10 a day) for car parking at seven of its sites across San Francisco and Marin, including Baker Beach, Sutro Heights, and Lands End. (SFGATE

What else I’m reading: 

How a 52-year-old real estate agent became San Francisco's 'Flag Man' (Chronicle) 

Garbage odyssey: San Francisco’s bizarre, costly quest for the perfect trash can (Mission Local) 

The people taking San Francisco’s trash into their own hands (Mission Local)

And finally…

Here's a little piece by local writer and SF Minute correspondent Paolo Bicchieri. We're thinking of making these short interviews with local business owners/people a regular thing, and our working name for the section is "Paolo's Ponderings." We’d love to know what you think!

Back in the ‘80s, Josiah Luis Alderete snuck across the Golden Gate Bridge at night in his mom’s Ford Capri to go buy books. 

The 15-year-old from Marin had heard of a popular shop in North Beach called City Lights Bookstore and he wanted to snag “The Ancient Rain” by Bob Kaufman (the artist who laid claim to coining the term “beatnik”). 

“I was one of those weird teenagers, man,” Alderete told me in a recent conversation. “I was hooked after that.” 

He certainly hasn’t let go of that passion for words, or for City Lights. Alderete, 51, has now worked at the famed North Beach bookstore for the past four or five years. He’s responsible for buying books, stocking the shelves, and unlocking the front door at noon (when they open). 

Still, his time at the shop, which opened in 1953 as the nation’s first all-paperback bookstore and press, is far shorter than some of his colleagues who have been there for decades. 

“I’m a baby at City Lights,” Alderete said. “It’s an institution. This shit is a legacy.”

Making words and texts accessible to people is paramount to Alderete, a poet and an organizer himself. He loves that, after all this time, City Lights keeps bringing books to people in an affordable and communal way. As a kid, it meant a lot to him to have this store in the city.

“This place was a revelation,” Alderete said. “This is where I discovered the people who would inspire me for years. Working here, in connection to that, is huge.”

You can catch Alderete at City Lights as he slings books during the week from noon to 8 pm. And, you can check out his book of poems “Old Pochos y Baby Axolotls” here.

That’s all for today! Thanks so much for reading y’all and before you go…a quick plug for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with how the heck politics work in San Francisco, consider checking out Joel Engardio’s Politics 101 webinar this Thursday from 9-10 pm.

As Joel writes, “It provides an entertaining look at the history that shaped San Francisco, while explaining how City Hall and local politics work.”

You can register for free here.

And, if you can’t make Thursday’s talk, he’s hosting another one the following Tuesday (9/14) at 7 pm. You can register for that talk here.

Alright, have a great night and see you tomorrow! - Nick B.

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