The CWM was established in 1974 by Greg O’Flynn. It was a unique store, well ahead of its time. It was a wine merchant in the truest sense with the owner personally tasting and selecting the wines that were to be carried as well as personally interacting with the customers and making recommendations. It did not carry any beer or hard alcohol.
California wines have always been the primary focus. After tasting wines from all over the world Greg thought that wines from California were outstanding and could rival the best wines from Europe. (Interestingly, it was only two years after the California Wine Merchant opened its doors that the famous Tasting in Paris took place in 1976. It was a blind tasting in which French wine judges ranked wines from California better that some of the best French wines.)
The mid-‘70’s was an exciting time in the California wine industry. There were a lot of new wineries being opened by people who saw the great future of California and who were dedicated to high quality. Wines from the likes of Caymus, Stag’s Leap, Diamond Creek, Chateau Montelena, Dehlinger, Joseph Swan, Duckhorn and many others were brand new at that time and it was these, and more, that made up the selection at our store. Pioneering new wines is one of the aspects of being a wine merchant that we enjoy the most. We love finding that next great wine before anyone else knows about it.
The original location of the CWM was at 3237 Pierce Street in the San Francisco Marina District. The unique floor to ceiling redwood wine racks were personally hand built by Greg. The business operated continuously at that original location for 30 years.
After 30 years in the same location the original building was slated for demolition. Greg and Deborah moved the business to its current location at 2113 Chestnut Street in San Francisco (literally just around the corner from the original location). The new location was formerly a dilapidated dive-type bar called Danny’s that had been closed for a couple of years. Greg and Deborah remodeled and renovated the new location keeping the same look and feel of the original store and added a wine bar to their wine store operation. The new combination wine store & wine bar was an immediate success and has become the liveliest wine bar in San Francisco.