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Why Natural Wine?



Have you heard? What’s old is new again: we’re talking natural wine.

Up until the mid 17th century, all wine would have been considered natural. It wasn’t until the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions when conventional wine, as we know it today, started to be produced. So, if natural wine isn’t all that new, why is it so hot?

“… It’s not your dad’s wine, it’s the punk rock of wine. It’s the extreme reaction to over-commercialized wine for years…and (a lot of it) is delicious..” -Ryan Rugg, owner of CellarMasters

We sat down with Ryan and Kory, wine bros behind St. Petersburg’s realest wine bar and bottle shop, CellarMasters. The two shed some light on the mysteries surrounding the enigmatic juice we call “natural wine.” Their impressive experience in the wine world,  from wine-making, esteemed tasting menu curation, and even wine competition judging (but the guys don’t like to brag) make them the ultimate resource for this trending topic.

What is natural wine?

There is no legal definition for natural. According to Ryan, you cannot be dogmatic about natural wine because “If you talk to 100 different winemakers about what natural wine is, you will get 100 different answers.” Natural wine is about process and comes down to a series of checkboxes: it can be grown organically or biodynamically; the grapes should be picked by hand; and *nothing should be added or subtracted.”

How do I start to drink natural wine? 

If you’re ready to think outside the box-store wines, and want to try natural wine for the first time, it can be a little daunting. The Cellar Masters suggest starting with a varietal you know you enjoy, like Pinot noir. A fun way to explore the nuances of natural wine is to try it side-by-side with its conventional counterpart. And a great tip as you’re looking to purchase bottles on your own is to see who the importer is by checking out the back of the label.

Where can I find natural wine?

With the rise of the natural wine movement thanks in part to social media, we are starting to see more and more natural wine bars like CellarMasters popping up in cities across the country. Natural wine is also making its way onto wine lists at traditional bars, modern restaurants, and even some coffee shops! It might be a while before natural wine is easily found at the local grocery store, until then try searching “natural wine” on Yelp to find a distributor near you.

Discover natural wine in Tampa Bay at The CellarMasters located at 1005 1st Avenue N Saint Petersburg, FL 33705. Their hours are Monday through Thursday 11am-8pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm, and Sunday 12pm-5pm. You can keep up with their latest inventory (and laugh at their wine jokes) by following them on Instagram: @cellarmasters_of_the_universe .

Please note, some quotes and information have been summarized and condensed for flow and readability.

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