Barbara Gratta's signature wine is called "Garage Blend" — and she means it. All of Gratta's wines are made in the garage of the Bayview home she purchased with her partner in 1999.
Over the past two decades, Gratta has become a neighborhood fixture. In 2006, she got an official permit to sell her homemade wine, and in 2015, she opened a tasting room at 2022 Lane St.
Now, she's expanding into the adjacent space at 5299 Third St., which she's calling Gratta's Market and Winery. It will serve to-go food, Italian pantry staples, and of course, Gratta wine.
But the Garage Blend will no longer be made in Gratta's garage. She's moving her production facility into the new space.
“Our big plan was always to move the business out of the garage," Gratta said. "We have to move so we can expand."
The new space will give Gratta the opportunity to produce more bottles of her namesake wine, whose varietals include petit syrah, sangiovese, rosé and zinfandel. She may add some new varieties to the lineup as well.
It'll also allow Gratta to sell more of the food she's perfected for her tasting room, like panini, lasagna and her signature Rose's meatballs.
"We've been talking about this for 20 years," Gratta said. "The fact that we are able to have a brick-and-mortar on Third Street is crazy to us."
The space was previously Frankie's Discount and Variety, a neighborhood store that sold everything from household items to toys and candy. It was also known for fixing vacuum cleaners.
Frankie, the store's owner and namesake, has passed away; his wife, who ran it in his stead, retired in late 2016. Gratta has long collaborated with her on a plan to take over the space, a deal that was made official in 2017.
The 1,000 square-foot space is still under renovation. It will have a small kitchen, a deli counter, and shelves that to display goods like dry and frozen pasta, canned Italian tomatoes and artisanal olive oil. Gratta plans to dedicate an entire shelf to products from Bayview-based businesses.
"As far as the footprint goes, this place is not huge," Gratta said. "But we'll be able to make use of every inch of this space."
In addition to the Italian fare for which the tasting room has become popular, Gratta's Market will sell "basic coffee," other brands of Italian wine and beer.
"We are not beer people, so we'll be reaching out to our local experts to source their beer," she said. "I would really like to work with another woman-owned business."
There may also be some weekend specials, like gelato, eggplant parmesan or pastries brought in from North Beach.
Customers will have the opportunity to watch Gratta at work making her wine, a process that takes a year or more. She plans to host barrel tastings along the way.
"Our winemaking style is minimal," Gratta told Hoodline. "We use a gentle hand to move the process along, and there is very little intervention — no added flavors or anything like that."
Expanding her business in the midst of a pandemic hasn't fazed Gratta, who said making the necessary safety changes to her tasting room has doubled as a test for how the market will operate. Building Gratta's Market as a to-go operation from the start has helped, and she already has outdoor seating.
"I feel good about expanding, because we have community support," she said.
And while she describes leaving the garage she's worked in for two decades as "a little bittersweet," she's ready for her next step.
"I’m kind of sad to leave our home production space, because I am so connected to it,” she said. "But we have always wanted to bring to the community what we know as far as food and wine, so being able to do this market is like a fantasy that comes to life. We are very excited about it."
The opening date for Gratta Market & Winery is still under wraps, but once it opens, it will operate Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Gratta will update customers on the opening via her website.
In the meantime, Gratta's tasting room is open for outdoor seating on Friday and Saturday from 3 - 7 p.m.