2017 marked the culmination of 20 years in the Bay Area wine scene for Caleb Taft.
Born overseas, he spent his formative years in San Diego. Nightly dinners with the family taught him the value of food, the meaning of community and the power of cooking. He learned much from his mother, a formidable cook in her own right. Caleb’s father was an avid wine drinker, but the only memory of wine from this time were the wine coolers mixed for pool parties – it was the 80s after all.
In college and after, Caleb began cooking professionally, honing his skills in the kitchen of a busy private club and later, a fishmarket. But it was a move to San Francisco that changed everything. A chance job in the gourmet department of Cost Plus World Market brought him into the world of wine. A tiny taste of a 19th century Port sealed the deal and sent him into a life-long deep dive into this never-ending subject.
Caleb later became the wine buyer for the first Whole Foods in San Francisco and added Cheesemonger to his reume. From there, he became the National Sales Manager for Vinum Cellars where he sold wine in 30 states as well as a few international markets. A winery ahead of its time, Caleb peddled such outré varieties as Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and Cabernet Franc in a sea of Chard and Cabernet.
After leaving Vinum Cellars, Caleb joined the staff of nopa restaurant as a manager in their first year of operations. It was a masterclass in service, food and wine, attracting the who’s who in the culinary world, ardent local followers and eventually, defining the neighborhood. He later left to become the Wine Director and manager of Camino, in Oakland. Led by Chez Panisse alum Russell Moore, Camino specializes in organic, hearth-cooked foods, with a concise, all-organic wine list. Caleb later returned to retail at Arlequin Wine Merchants in SF, which has a legendary cellar stocked with deep verticals of the best producers from Burgundy, the Loire Valley and California.
Caleb is now happy to be back on the streets, representing the Schatzi portfolio and drinking as much Riesling as he can get his hands on.