Just a few years ago, if you wanted to drink natural wine in South Florida you had two options: pay hefty shipping fees to procure cases from California and beyond or frequent the handful of restaurants that include natural options in their wine program (Michael’s Genuine, Lagniappe). Like the food I eat, I prefer wine that is sustainable, lowintervention and organic. But it’s tough, and so I fall back to old commercial habits. And then, like a shining beacon of joy during our summer quarantine, I came across Margot Natural Wine Bar, a new venture from the team at Bar Lab. I asked Jarred Grant, director of operations, to school me on all things natty and nice.
How did you and the Bar Lab team get into natural wines?
We first learned about natural wine on our travels through Europe in the early days of Broken Shaker. We wanted to use it at Broken Shaker, but at that time natural wine was very difficult to find in the United States, but especially difficult in Florida. Throughout the years it was more available in New York and Los Angeles, but now we are seeing it in most major U.S. markets. It has been our wine of choice for quite some time. We also love learning about the methods and procedures used to make the wines.
What is the biggest misconception about natural wine?
That it is something new or a passing fad. The process of making natural wine is actually the traditional way of making wine going back thousands of years.
How is natural wine different from regular wine?
A natural wine is a wine that has nothing added or taken away. There are no chemicals used at the vineyard or cellar, no filtering or fancy machinery, and no sulfites are added. The grapes are farmed organically or biodynamically using permaculture methods or the like. The result is a living wine that is wholesome and full of naturally occurring microbiology.
What regions are making the best natural wine now?
That is a tough question. There are so many places making great natural wines now. Some of our favorites can be found in Mendocino Valley in California or the Puglia region in Italy.
What should I say when someone asks why I’m drinking cloudy wine?
You should tell them that you are drinking cloudy wine because it is alive and full of raw and honest ingredients. Another misconception people have about natural wines is that they are all cloudy and very funky, but natural wine has many different styles and flavor profiles.
Is there any certification for natural wine?
How do you know someone isn’t simply slapping words like ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ on a label? ‘Organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ are two technical terms that apply to some natural wine, but not in any official capacity or certification process. Certification requires capital, and many smaller producers choose to walk the walk without paying an organization to certify what they already do. A little research into the wineries and producers, and you will find what methods they use.
A question I’m embarrassed to ask but will ask anyway: Why do natural wines have such aesthetically pleasing labels?
Great question! Traditional wine labels have become so boring. Natty/ raw wines come with so much personality in their juice that they reflect that same personality on their labels. Many of the natural winemakers come from other industries that they left to follow their dream of making wine, and therefore they think outside of the box when it comes to all things winemaking.
Any idea when you will be able to open Margot?
Due to the pandemic we had to stop the construction of our downtown location. We’ve launched Margot To Go, a virtual wine shop where you can purchase the wines that we will be carrying for at-home delivery.
Photography by: Courtesy of Margot Natural Wine Bar.