When EOS closed down in 2012, Cole Valley lost a wine drinking institution. It has taken two years but now on Carl Street, across from the old EOS space, InoVino is filling a much-needed void in this area.

Opened last September by Claudio Villani, a Florentine native who put fabulous wine lists together at Incanto, Quince and Perbacco, this 30 seat enoteca feels like the kind of place you would stumble upon in Florence. Just a few blocks south of Golden Gate Park, a trip to InoVino would be a great way to cap off a day at the beach or an afternoon at the DeYoung Museum or Academy of Sciences.

The almost all Italian wine list highlights wines made from Alpine and volcanic regions. To many, this may seem like a curious choice but a lot of Italy’s most unique wines come from the highest altitudes, which in the southern part of the country and islands also mean places with volcanic soils. Says Villani, “I was looking for wines with less density and tannic structure more approachable with more distinctive minerality and acidity, in a few words more drinkable but with a very strong sense of place.”

On a recent visit I started my adventure off with a White Volcanic Flight that included the 2011 Etna Bianco, Mare de Ripiddu from Filippo Grasso in Sicily, the 2012 I Favati Fiano di Avellino from Campagnia and Olivella’s 2012 Vesuvio Bianco, also from Campagnia. The flight, which consists of three ounces of each wine, cost $17 and was an amazing illustration of terroir. The Fiano had the most perfumed, floral character while the other two demonstrated volcanic minerality in different ways. I also tried the ’11 Grillo Kebrilla from Cantina Fina ($5 – 3 oz, $9 – 6 oz, $17 – 12 oz), a pleasant sipper with stone fruit and floral overtones.

The red wines are just as much fun. Villani insisted that I taste the 2011 Anzivino Nebbiolo from Gattinara ($6/$11/$20) in northern Piedmont. Ok, twist my arm. Villani, who is as genuine as his charming accent, has an infectious excitement so you might find yourself trying wines that seem to come from another planet without ever feeling like you’ve been pushed out of your comfort zone.

In total, 22 wines are available in a three or six-ounce pour, or a 12 ounce carafe. The bottle list, which is also almost exclusively Italian, is divided between the Alpine and Volanic wines, and those that come from other regions. The prices are very reasonable. You will not find a single bottle for more than $100.

InoVino’s menu is simple, as one would expect but offers enough variety to make a meal. Several bruschette, salads and antipasti make good share snacks. If you are a little bit hungrier, six pizette are available such as the Acciuga with white anchovies, marinated artichokes and fresh ricotta ($8). Ino Vino also serves a Prosciutto Trio ($16) and Salumi Plate ($15). Of course the selection of twelve Italian cheeses caught my eye ($6 for one, $15 for three) right away.

While this is very much of a neighborhood joint, I would happily cross town to meet a friend for a glass of wine an InoVino. It is worth the trip so if you are coming to San Francisco and want to drink great Italian wines as if you too are a local, be sure to make a stop at InoVino. 

108-B Carl Street (Cole Street)
(415) 681-3770

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday: 4-11 p.m.
Saturday: 3-11 p.m.

Photo by SF Examiner.