In 1799, the Coup of Brumaire marked the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte as rule in France. In 2016 a very different sort of Brumaire-ian coup was hatched in Oakland, California, where a crew of likeminded natural wine geeks conspired to throw a proper wine fair for the American west coast. Thus, Brumaire was launched—an American-born natural wine fete inspired by the Dives, Offs, and assorted wine tasting salons held annually throughout Europe.
Now in its third year, Brumaire has grown into a major event on the American natural wine calendar, drawing top producers and cult favorites from around the world, whilst maintaining a thru-line of raw, unfiltered energy befitting the beverages at hand. For those in the biz it’s something of a family reunion; for wide eyed newbies to the world of natural wine, it is a crash course in who’s who, what they’e pouring, and why this world of wine matters (hint: it’s delicious).
The Third Brumaire takes place on Sunday, March 11th at the Starline Club (2236 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Oakland, CA) a double decker event hall with a charming bar and live music. Limited tickets are still available—buy yours today. A deftly curated compendium of producers from near and far will be pouring at the fest, splashing out their wines, regaling you with stories if so requested, and graciously accepting cans of shitty beer as a show of gratitude (always with the shitty beer).
Brumaire is so much fun, and we’d love to see you there. But if you can’t make it, we invite you to join us digitally as we bring the vicarious experience of Brumaire to you. Sprudge Wine has teamed up with Brumaire to serve as official media partners of the fest, a task we don’t take lightly. Follow us @sprudgewine on Instagram for impending coverage from the show.
In the meantime we sat down with the Brumaire Steering Committee—Bradford Taylor, Josh Eubank, Matt Coelho and Quinn Kimsey-White—to learn more about the fest, ask a cheeky question or three, and get ourselves pumped for the impending shenanigans. Not that it takes much pumping.
This interview, while unfined and unfiltered, has been gently edited for clarity.
Hey there Brumaire Steering Committee, thanks so much for speaking with us here at Sprudge Wine. For starters, give us an overview of Brumaire for readers who might be unfamiliar.
Brumaire is a wine fair that brings together natural winemakers from California with their colleagues from the around the world. Our goal is to celebrate and encourage natural wine culture in California.
Who is new exhibiting this year you’re especially excited for?
Lots of new faces this year. Particularly thrilled by a last minute RSVP from Julie Balagny, who makes some of my very favorite wines in the Beaujolais. Definitely do not miss. Tom Lubbe from Matassa is making his way over from France as well. Tom is an utter joy to chat with, and his wine are fucking delicious. Despite making close to no wine, François Grinand from Domaine du Perron will be making the trip to pour his ethereal mountain wines. Get to his table early.
There’s a strong Georgian contingent for the first time, thanks to the efforts of importer Chris Terrell. They have a reputation for being wild, so they will fit in nicely.
Deidre Heenkin from La Garagista will be back after taking last year off, and she will be joined by Krista Scruggs, a cellar hand who is now working on her own project. Krista was a customer at Ordinaire back in the day, and we can’t wait to see what her wines are like.
The California representation is largely the same (with a few new faces), but we expect the wines will be dramatically different than last year. Folks are taking more chances these days, and the wines are more exciting than ever.
What role do importers play at the fest?
We try to work with importers during the invitation process. And then they obviously do a lot of the hospitality work when the producers are in town. We do not let importers pour at the tasting, since we want Brumaire to be less about tasting new wines than about meeting the people responsible for producing those wines.
Are there any cool outside events happening around Brumaire folks should know about?
The short answer is yes, though the Brumaire Steering Committee is taking a much less active role in planning those events. There are rumors of a Capriades dinner at Lord Stanley, a Georgian wine party at the Punchdown, and an epic Friday Night Flights at Ruby Wine. Kosuke will be cooking a special Brumaire bistro Thursday and Friday night before the fair, which involve pretty serious cellar raids and other spontaneous fun. Make a reservation. We will post Brumaire-related events on the website, as they are confirmed.
Is there like a white whale winemaker you haven’t been able to lure yet, but would love to someday feature?
Thierry Puzelat pulled out last minute this year (for good reasons), but would be awesome to have the full VAMOS VAMOS VAMOS squad all pouring one year. Maybe next year.
What is your desert island bottle of natural wine?
One is never enough ;)
What are the good Oakland wine spots folks should check out while visiting for the fest?
Lots of small spots pouring great wine. Try to hit all these…
Do you see this festival getting bigger? Have you sought out larger sponsorships for it? Or is the goal to keep it rowdy and intimate? Where do you see the fest in five years??
We actually want the fair to be smaller, but it’s hard saying no to producers that we like. We all prefer the small fairs of France, like Les Anonymes or Les Penitents, which have a clear and focused identity and strong sense of camaraderie amongst their producers. We aren’t really interested in sponsorships, since we prefer to act without oversight or input. It allows us to keep it, as you say, rowdy and intimate.
In five years, we would like to see Brumaire exactly like it was in year one. That was a magical day, built out of idealism and propelled by lots of community energy. Keeping that spirit alive is more important to us than having a powerhouse lineup of cult producers, or whatever.