By Pati Navalta
The holidays may look different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative with gift-giving. In a year spent mostly apart, the gift of experiences—from restaurants to local adventures—offer a glimmer of hope. Small businesses offering unique, customized trinkets are not only meaningful, but provide a boost to business owners who have taken a hit this year. And of course, there are always the extra special gifts – luxury items for those who deserve something special after spending months quarantining with you, or those whose company you’ve missed this year. Here are just a few items we’ve gathered that would look great under the tree or tucked in a stocking.
Go Big by Going Small
Many small businesses have taken a huge hit due the pandemic. You might consider stopping by a few of the Makers Markets around the Bay Area, where local artists and makers display their unique wares in open-air marketplaces., including the Makers Market Napa on Dec. 12 and 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on First Street in Napa. With ongoing changes in safety regulations and the unpredictability of events, however, you may prefer smaller venues where you can still support artisans and makers and not worry about crowds. Forum by b8ta in San Francisco’s Union Square offers that, with a rotating variety of vendors and unique gifts. Located in quaint Maiden Lane, you can avoid large groups and explore two floors of small-business brands. The Forum at Union Square opened on August 20 and is one of three locations by experiential retailer, b8ta. The space features health, beauty, lifestyle, and fashion brands, highlighting the innovation and creativity of local, national, and global makers. 120 Maiden Lane. 415.770.0525
As a new winery, tasting room, culinary showplace, retreat and event venue in the scenic Russian River Valley, Bricoleur Vineyards has a lot to offer guests – and they’ve found the perfect way to showcase those offerings through carefully curated gift packages just for the holidays. Featuring unique sets that highlight the property’s award-winning wine portfolio, Bricoleur’s gift guide features local luxury provisions, wine accessories, and self-care products, as well as charitable packages that support local and national philanthropic organizations. Here are just a few:
Self-Care Gift Sets
Riddle Oil x Bricoleur: Bricoleur Vineyards partnered with Venice Beach-based company Riddle Oil, a high-quality luxury fragrance oil and skincare brand, to create a luxurious gift set which includes a bottle of wine such as the “Flying by the Seat of Our Pants” Brut and a Riddle Oil variety box. The variety box contains items such as roll-on fragrances, body oil and spray-on lotion with scents that are subtle and great for everyday wear.
Treat Yourself Package: Bricoleur Vineyards partnered with local favorite Roost General Store, a lifestyle shop in downtown Windsor, which features curated local goods from Sonoma County, to create the ultimate self-care themed gift. The set will include a bottle of Bricoleur wine and several Roost General Store’s products such as a super soft eye mask, handmade Mediterranean fig lotion and a hand-poured oakmoss and amber scent candle.
Merry Merry Package: Along with Roost General Store, this set is sure to put everyone in the holiday spirit. With the purchase of the set, customers will receive Bricoleur wine from the winery’s portfolio and Roost General Store’s holiday themed items like a “Cheers” wine tote and a hand-poured holiday-scented candle.
For the Wine Enthusiast
Volo Chocolate Pairing Box: The winery and Volo Chocolate, a Healdsburg- based company, which specializes in unique chocolate flavors using local ingredients, teamed up with Bricoleur to create the ultimate chocolate and wine paring box. The set will include Bricoleur wine and unique chocolate bars with a variety of ingredients such as candied orange peel, figs and hazelnuts selected to pair with each wine. The box is delivered with detailed tasting notes describing what chocolate bar to pair with what wine for a fun, interactive tasting experience.
The Magnum Box: This set will include some of Bricoleur’s inaugural magnums such as the 1.5L of 2018 Estate Special Selection Pinot Noir and the 1.5L of 2018 Estate Pinot Noir which will be sure to excite and impress this holiday season.
The Special Collection Box: The crème de la crème from Bricoleur’s estate vineyards, this deluxe set will include bottles from the winery’s first-ever Special Selection label including the 2018 Estate Special Selection Pinot Noir and 2018 Estate Special Selection Chardonnay. With a very limited number of sets available, the box will also include a Corvin Model Three which allows wine enthusiasts to pour and protect wines closed with a screw cap for up to three months.
“Show Us How You Fly” Gift Box: Named after Bricoleur’s meaning, this fun set will include wine and apparel from their “Flying by the Seat of Our Pants” label such as the North Coast Brut Sparkling, 2019 Kick Ranch Rosé of Grenache and a black & rose gold logo baseball hat.
Pinot Noir Vertical Gift Box: Compare vintages with this vertical set which will include a number of bottles such as the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir, 2018 Estate Pinot Noir and the 2018 Estate Special Selection Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay Vertical Gift Box: This gift box will include past and current vintages like the 2017 Estate Chardonnay, 2018 Estate Chardonnay, 2019 Estate Chardonnay and the 2018 Estate Special Selection Chardonnay.
Homegrown Gift Box: This set will include a variety of Bricoleur’s signature varietals such as the 2019 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé, 2018 Estate Unoaked Chardonnay, 2018 Estate Chardonnay and the 2018 Estate Pinot Noir.
The Estate Collection Box: All sourced from Bricoleur’s Estate, this set will include products such as the 2018 Estate Chardonnay, 2018 Estate Pinot Noir and some of Bricoleur Vineyards Estate Olive Oil which is pressed from olives grown exclusively on the winery’s property.
The Gift of Giving Back: The winery and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization that creates life-enhancing experiences for children with critical illnesses, partnered to create a one-of-a-kind gift set where a $100 of every box purchase will go to benefit children in need. The set will include a bottle of wine, a box of delectable chocolates from Feve Artisan Chocolatier, wine tumblers and an assortment of party favors.
A Gift for Pets
Winery Dog Favorites: Bricoleur Vineyards and The Foggy Doggy, a San Francisco, California-based pet store that specializes in luxury pet accessories, teamed up to create the perfect holiday gift for your furry companion. The set will include pet-approved items such as a bag of Bricoleur Vineyards’ homemade dog treats, The Foggy Doggy toy bone and The Foggy Doggy handkerchief.
For last-minute gift options, Bricoleur Vineyards has created experiences including a Bricoleur Vineyards Garden Tour, Fishing Day at the Big Pond and Bricoleur Vineyards E-Gift Card. All can be purchased from now until Dec. 24. 7394 Starr Road, Windsor, 707.857.5700. email@example.com
Among the many bragging rights of San Francisco are its many museums – from fine arts to family gems. For the die-hard Disney fan, you can’t do much better than a gift from the Walt Disney Family Museum Store, located in the beautiful Presidio. The store offers a variety of merchandise, including books, clothing, historical memorabilia, and other truly unique Disney gifts for both children and the children in all of us. The store will be open Dec. 19 and 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., or you can order items online. 104 Montgomery St.. 415.345.6800.
Let’s not forget the science enthusiasts on our lists. Offering an equally unique and exciting array of gifts is the Exploratorium. Although the museum is closed, you can explore its online store and avoid shipping delays by checking out with Curbside Pickup. Your order will be ready within three hours of submitting your online order in front of the Exploratorium at Pier 15 in San Francisco, Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m, including Saturday, December 19 and Thursday, December 24. Gift options include a wide selection of games, unusual gadgets, coding and maker kits, STEAM toys, puzzles, kitchenware, art and science and books and more. Pier 15, The Embarcadero. 415.528.4444.
Food, Glorious Food
In a foodie haven like San Francisco, there is no shortage of sought-after restaurant gift cards. Not only can they provide amazing culinary experiences for whoever receives them, but they help our local restaurant owners, who can all use our continued support. Whether your gift is used for takeout or in-person dining down the road, these gift cards are perfect for offering a taste of San Francisco.
John’s Grill: This classic San Francisco hotspot just two blocks from Union Square has been luring celebrities and locals alike for more than 100 years. Steaks, seafood, a variety of salads, and a perfect view for people watching – what’s not to like? Purchase a gift card online. 63 Ellis St., 415.986.0069.
Alexander’s Steakhouse: Only serious steak lovers should get the gift of Alexander’s Steakhouse. Their one-of-a-kind A5 Hitachiwaygu beef tasting menu, masterfully prepared by Executive chef Eric Upper, utilizes all parts of a Hitachi cow, delivered straight from Japan. The menu comes with a wine pairing curated by head sommelier Sean Widger, whose expertise flows as freely as the wine he pours. 448 Brannan St., 415.495.1111
Café Zoetrope: If the person you’re trying to please is less into steakhouse and more into spaghetti, Café Zoetrope, owned by none other than film director and vintner, Francis Ford Coppola, will hit the spot. The North Beach treasure serves some of Coppola’s own rustic Italian recipes, and diners in the Sentinel Building can enjoy the European bohemian vibe that was created by design. 916 Kearny St., 415.291.1700.
Z&Y Restaurant: If it’s good enough for President Barack Obama and other global dignitaries, it should be good enough for a stocking stuffer! Chef and owner Han Lijun has been delighting diners with his Sichuan dishes for years, with specialty dishes such as Hui Guo Rou Pork or Twice Cooked Pork. 655 Jackson St., 415.981.8988.
While we can’t enjoy many of the activities we’re used to enjoying right now, a gift card that promises a fun adventure can go a long way with someone itching to get out. Seaplane Adventures can provide the perfect blend of adventure and staycation, offering aerial panoramic views of San Francisco from Sausalito. Aboard a six-passenger plane, you can fly over the bay, taking in views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Muir Woods, downtown San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf, Angel Island, and more. Tours include a 40-minute Sunset Champagne Tour and a 60-minute NorCal Coastal Tour, among others.
Who doesn’t deserve a little something extra this year? If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale for some special—from luxury timepieces to engagement rings—Shreve & Co. in San Francisco can provide you with an elevated fine jewelry shopping experience. 150 Post St. 421.2600. If art is more of what you had in mind, Montague Gallery, Christopher Clark Gallery, and CK Contemporary Gallery all provide one-of-a-kind pieces that will impress the art collector on your list.
Photos: All images for Forum are courtesy of Pati Navalta, All images for Bricoleur Vineyard are courtesy of Bricoleur Vineyard