illustration by Emily Edgar
It’s a place you might miss on the way to the post office. Just a few hundred feet away from the community canopy that is the “Normal Heights” neighborhood sign, Bine & Vine sits proudly under a classic burgundy awning, boasting—what else? —fine wine and craft beer. From the outside, the shop shows little pretense but a lot of promise. Inside, that promise extends to the experience. On a typical day, you’ll find owner and San Diego native, Geoi Bachoua, sliding between coolers and wine racks offering his personally tailored expertise to all of his guests.
But it’s no surprise. Bachoua has this business in his blood. “I used to work for my father at his pharmacy in Imperial Beach, running the liquor, beer, and wine section… and I established a reputation for having a large, well-curated selection back when very few retailers were dedicating any space for craft beers. I always had my eyes on going independent and opening a specialty craft beer and wine shop, emphasizing both equally well.” That was the genesis of Bine & Vine.
The store is named for its products, bine being the shoot of hops and vine being the lifeblood of grapes. Which came first for Bachoua? “Beer for sure.” Though admitting beer was his first love, it was an entrée into his passion for wine. “Just like with beer, all it took was tasting the right wine and then having the light turn on. At that point, the passion for knowledge took over and I jumped down the rabbit hole soaking in as much information as I could. Passion breeds success,” Bachoua opines.
It’s this knowledge-seeking that brings in his wide array of producers and styles, including a hefty inventory of natural wine. Though an ardent fan of all the wines he brings in, Bachoua also sees the cultural and business side of the rising popularity of natural wine. Bachoua expounds on the idea by saying, “[t]he natural wine movement has been fantastic for getting younger consumers more involved in the wine scene, and that’s a win for the entire industry. I think these younger wine drinkers don’t want to drink their parents’ Napa Cab. They gravitate toward natural wine’s brighter, purer, and fresher style. As a retailer, our customers count on us to bring in exciting, interesting natural wines and trust that our selection was curated carefully.”
In addition to selection, another charm is the store’s dedication to its neighborhood. “I was looking for the perfect location, and was handshake away from sealing the deal elsewhere, but something stopped me… my heart wasn’t feeling the area. Then I heard a beer and wine mini-mart was for sale in Normal Heights. My wife and I went to check it out and instantly fell in love.” And Normal Heights gave back in kind. “One thing I’ll never take for granted is how this community embraced myself and my employees; we truly feel like we’re their neighbors [and] family.” It’s this familial approach that makes Bine & Vine stand out.
Geoi extends that sense of community to the greater San Diego area, including its winemakers. “San Diego wineries are really improving as well, J. Brix, Stehleon, Vesper and several wineries in Ramona have made some impressive wine in their most recent vintages.” Bachoua also champions the wines of Baja, adding, “[w]e really enjoy Valle wines, especially Cavas Valmar, Vena Cava, Mina Penelope, Santo Tomas and more.” He puts his buying where his mouth is, as you can find many of those producers at the store.
Distilling the shop’s mission statement, Bachoua explains, “[w]hether it be beer or wine, our customers demand the highest quality, without a pretentious attitude, and that’s why they shop at Bine & Vine.” Exactly. Bachoua even hopes to extend this philosophy by opening “[m]ore locations plus a tasting room, possibly a food concept. We have some coals in the fire as we speak.” Though a gem to the crowd of Adams Avenue, the quality and selection of this spot are worth making the trip no matter where you are in San Diego. And, who knows, maybe after your visit, you’ll head to that post office and mail some wine to a friend.