A Chef-Winemaker Snags His Dream Job

A chef-winemaker snags his dream job

These days, there are lots of chef-farmers and chef-butchers. But Jason Berthold is a rarity: a chef-winemaker.

At San Francisco's new wine bar and restaurant RN74 (named for Burgundy's main thoroughfare), the French Laundry alum uses France as an inspiration rather than a rule book. Some dishes–like lamb stew made with preserved lemon and fava beans–blend French technique with local ingredients. Others, such as sea urchin carbonara, are distinctly New American. But Berthold's real innovation is his wine.

While working at the Laundry, Berthold (pictured) crossed paths with experimental Napa Valley winemaker Abe Schoener, who's famous for letting his wines make themselves. Berthold absorbed Schoener's contrarian ethos and, in 2006, began making his own wine.

Bottled under his Courier label, Berthold sources some of northern California's finest fruit for his small-production vintages. Among RN74's 50 wines offered by the glass is his aromatic 2006 Snake Ridge Syrah, made with Syrah, Grenache and Viognier ($14). His minerality-driven unfiltered 2007 Ryan's Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, offered by the bottle ($80), is also worth sampling. Eventually, all of Berthold's wines will be poured at RN74; they're also available at Napa shop Back Room Wines.

Food and wine from the same hands–talk about complementary pairings.

RN74, 301 Mission St., San Francisco; 415-543-7474 or rn74.com