Next time you want to experience fine wine tasting, you don’t have to go to Napa or Sonoma. With the arrival of the new Eco Terreno Urban Tasting Room, you can enjoy delicious wines in a beautiful setting here in North Beach’s historic Jackson Square. And enjoy the attentive service befitting the best establishments in the wine region.
says Marc Lyon, founder and owner of Eco Tirreno Cellar and Vineyards, a leading biodynamic and organic farming company. “That’s why we chose to bring the essence of our Alexander Valley ranch into the city. We also wanted to engage with a community where people could recognize and appreciate our strong, environmentally conscious spirit.”
After searching for a site for several years, he and Rob Izzo, CEO of Eco Terreno, found the historic building at 140 Columbus Avenue in 2018. The white lion head above the entrance seemed a promising omen. But it’s the building’s legacy of inclusivity, a value that has always been part of Eco Terreno’s culture, that has won them over. (Lyon was one of the first prominent, openly gay members of the California wine industry.) In 1918, it was home to The Jupiter, a black and tan club owned by Jelly Roll Morton. (These clubs provided safe spaces for people of different races to socialize during the apartheid era.) Later, Mona’s Bar opened here – the first lesbian bar on the West Coast. And in 1952, the building was home to the Purple Onion, the popular Beat-era comedy club that launched the careers of legendary artists like Lenny Bruce, Phyllis Diller, and the Smothers Brothers.
With large windows overlooking bustling Columbus Avenue, the tasting room exudes a relaxed, elegant vibe. Decorative touches like hand-painted grapevine murals and a mixed color palette of sage greens and deep burgundy nods to the room’s ties to the land and wines of the Alexander Valley.
“It’s just a beautiful space that’s so warm and inviting,” says Dawn Agnew, director of hospitality at Eco Terreno. “We’re really excited to bring this type of tasting room to town.”
Eco Terreno wine. | Image credit: Frank Francis
The tasting showcases aged Eco Terreno wines and is accompanied by small plates designed by Executive Chef Joe Paul, formerly of La Folie. Food pairings change daily depending on the season from Eco Terreno’s farm produce and other local organic sources. Paul bases his dishes on the features of the wine served. Tastings start at $50 per person for the Bee Classic, which includes five wines. For $130 per person, Lyon’s Pride includes a glass of champagne followed by a five-course wine and a pair of appetizers.
“We knew we wanted to offer more than just a tasting room with wine and cheese pairings,” says Agnew, who worked at Hamel Family Wines and Gary Danko’s restaurant before joining Eco Terreno. “There’s a bit of a learning curve for some clients until they’ve really experienced everything we offer. Then it’s like, ‘Oh, I just quit French Laundry.'” They’re comfortable with it.
Upstairs from the tasting room is an executive kitchen with display and education space for special events and Eco Terreno Wine Club members. and a 250-gallon tank for on-site winemaking.
The executive kitchen is located upstairs from the urban Eco Terreno tasting room. | Image credit: Frank Francis
Downstairs you will find Léon et Cygne This is an underground supper club serving French and Californian cuisine and live music every night. The room is small and intimate – it sleeps about 54 people. But the bold decor comes from studio design firm Make a Big Statement. There is plenty of tangible and eclectic artwork on display that honors the building’s diverse and interesting past. The onyx band, full of brown and gray lines and ripples, is itself a work of art. So do large modern light fixtures suspended in a net of glass threads above a quartet of plush chairs in orange and tropical hues. The living room faces an impressive fireplace, a perfect place to relax with a cocktail or glass of wine before dinner. red leather banquettes lined the walls; Mid-century inspired tables and chairs are dotted around the stage so you can enjoy great views of the entertainment with your meal.
“There is no entry fee or minimum per person at the Supper Club,” Agnew told Hoodline. “Dinners, shows, cocktails – they all work together seamlessly and harmoniously. Matteo Villano, our Beverage Director, has put together the most amazing wine list I’ve seen in town in a long time.”
Live entertainment and French California cuisine await at the Lion & Swan Supper Club. | Image credit: Frank Francis
Starting Supper Club Executive Chef Joe Paul. | Image credit: Frank Francis
The Eco Terreno Urban Tasting Room is located at 140 Columbus Ave and is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lyon & Swan (124 Columbus Ave) is open Wednesday through Monday, 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. For more information or a reservation, visit www.ecoterreno.com and www.lyonandswan.com