Swirl and sip at Walnut Creek’s burgeoning wine bar scene

OK, to describe it as a wine bar scene might be a bit much, but Walnut Creek has two renowned restaurants (Prima Ristorante and Va de Vi) known for their attention to wine and their ability to create fun wine tasting opportunities.

Meanwhile, establishments whose focus is on the pleasure of tasting and enjoying wine are moving in, and, apparently adding something new to the downtown cultural, entertainment, and dining scene.

I’ve yet to stop in at Artisan Wine Lounge on Bonanza Street, but it sounds like it’s thriving, according to a co-worker who had a big girls’ night out planned last Friday. Meanwhile, in its February issue, Diablo magazine celebrates the booming wine bar scene in the East Bay suburbs and describes Artisan as one highlight of this scene. “Come worship the Enomatic wine-pouring machine at this sleek little haven. Just pick a wine you want to try, insert your card, put your glass under the spigot, et voilà. Wine selections reflect the taste of co-owner Lena Chu, who lived in Spain but also loves Napa.”

Just today, I received an e-mail about how Artisan’s owners demonstrate their interest in enhancing local culture by showcasing the works of local artists. Through April 24, the wine lounge will display the works of Roger Sperling, a Walnut Creek artist and a former engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. According to a note I received, “When he retired his wife, Nancy, a watercolor student of Pat Strout, challenged him to try painting. He signed up for Pat’s acrylic class at Mount Diablo Adult Education. Roger discovered that his most popular subjects have been ‘edible’ still life and the slopes of Mount Diablo. “

Over on Locust Street, diagonal from the Lesher Center, Walnut Creek natives Jim and Jennifer Telford are putting finishing touches on their Residual Sugar wine bar (pictured above), hoping to open it April. Jim is a trained sommelier, and says the wine bar will offer 800 wines from around the world for taste by the glass or in flights or for sale.

Last week, I stopped in and saw the spacious, light-filled space and met Jim. One wall is lined ceiling high with a rich, dark-wood wine rack. On the opposite side runs a long marble-topped bar, where tastings will take place. Near the front, Jim said, there will be tables. The bar will serve small cheese plates and other appetizers, but Jim said that  the emphasis will be on wine, not on serving food.

While Jim says his bar will definitely feature and celebrate locallly produced wines, he added that he wants to also customers the good value now available from wines made in Europe or South America. The bar will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the hope that it will become a popular spot for patrons of the Lesher Center to stop in before or after performances.

9 thoughts on “Swirl and sip at Walnut Creek’s burgeoning wine bar scene

  1. Excellent addition to town! Atisan is great spot. The artwork is cool and changes. Have some 1oz tastes of some different wines. The food is good and happy hour offers an excellent value. Have a seat of a cushy couch while your there.

    Looking forward to trying Residual Sugar!


  2. Maybe I'm old-fashioned but please let the market decide (without bailouts) which places of business succeed or fail.


  3. Great post! I found it when I googled this place! I was looking for information because they have an awesome deal through passbox going on currently!! Ends in a few days, though….
    $15 for $40 of food, wine & beer at Residual Sugar Wine Bar & Merchant in Walnut Creek – http://bit.ly/cKDfoh


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