CAV Wine Bar Director/Owner Pamela Busch Talks Wine & Mets Baseball

San Francisco may be home to more wine enthusiasts than any other city in the U.S.. Stop in nearly any San Francisco wine bar and you are likely to find an outstanding wine list, a knowledgeable staff, and a clientele that knows its wine. CAV Wine Bar is one of the most unique wine bars in San Francisco as it focuses -not strictly on the obvious California wines up the road in Napa and Sonoma- but on wines from all over the globe. Nestled conveniently next door to Zuni (a beacon for San Francisco foodies), CAV is both central to locals and easily navigable for tourists seeking a real California wine bar experience (Market Street, where CAV resides, is San Francisco's main artery). IntoWine recently had the pleasure of talking wine and Mets baseball with CAV Co-Owner and Wine Director Pamela Busch.

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First, why the name "CAV"?

The name CAV comes from the French 'cave', meaning a place where wine is stored (cheese too) but if we wrote 'cave' people would pronounce it as 'cave' the English way, as in caveman, so I decided to ding the 'e' at the end.

You have a long history - sales, sommelier, wine bar entrepreneur- working in wine. How did these experiences contribute to making CAV the unique wine experience that it is? What criteria do you use to choose your wine?

Everything I've done has contributed to shaping the list, not only my work in the wine industry. Putting a wine list together is about personal expression but also about trying to please people. If I said I'm only going to put a wine list together that included only wines I drink that would narrow the field, you have to get a sense of where your customers are coming from. The different things I've done over the years have allowed me to get to know people. There is a bit of psychology involved and I've drawn the conclusion that people are way more open minded and experimental when given the right, or a safe setting.

I think people feel that wine bars do this, or at least that is the expectation. I don't believe in being esoteric for esoteric's sake, though. Every wine has to be good, end of story. I try a lot of stuff and because I seem to have this rep as having a penchant for obscure wines some salespeople think I'm going to go for the weirdest wine they show me and that is just not so.

Basically, it's about choosing good quality wines that are worth the price, having a range for different preferences but also having enough on the list to help our customers take chances and push the envelope a bit. Learning how to do this well comes from doing it enough. Sorry, it's not brain surgery. I think I also answered question six here too.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.
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