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Celebrate New Year's Eve with Purity — a More Inclusive Natural Winery

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A diverse group of natural wine enthusiasts raise their glasses, with a row of wine bottles on the counter in front of them.
Purity Wine owner Noel Diaz (third from the left) has developed a natural connection this year with collaborators Casey Grams, Shido and Joog.  (Alan Chazaro)

“Fruitful,” “organic” and “natural” are words that often feel gimmicky, especially when they’re used to market wine. But at Purity Wine, a small, unassuming warehouse bar and winery hidden along Richmond’s waterfront marina, those adjectives are mentioned genuinely to describe a growing, intergenerational community of natural winemakers.

“We were just fucking around, having fun,” says founder Noel Diaz. “It’s a mix of creatives. We don’t overthink anything. It has never been forced. It’s just natural.”

Earlier this year, the winery began throwing monthly “Wine Down” parties featuring local DJs, visual artists, foodmakers and other community members. The gatherings are curated by Bussdown, an umbrella of young creatives who host a variety of functions around the Bay Area, including vintage clothing markets and underground hip-hop events. After meeting Diaz and his wife Barrie Quan, who runs operations at Purity, Bussdown’s organizers happily entered the natural wine world as well.

Now, the fruits of their collective labor will culminate with the winery’s final party of the year, “NYE Wine Down” — a celebration that promises to pop more than a few bottles. The $75 event will include an entire night’s supply of natural wines, bites provided by Asian American food pop-up SMAX and, for the first 30 arrivals, a hand-painted, limited-edition bottle of Purity’s unreleased “Strawberry Bubblicious” pétillant naturel (or pét-nat) — a pink sparkling wine.

A man crouches down to paint a wine bottle with a can of pink spray paint.
Visual artist and label designer Shido paints bottles of “Strawberry Bubblicious” in preparation for Purity’s “NYE Wine Down.” (Alan Chazaro)

The party is meant to share Purity’s intersectional culture of accessibility, joy, art, music, food and, of course, “natty wines” with old and new friends alike. That includes welcoming more young folks of color who might have felt excluded from the wine scene in the past.

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“I’ve been in the natural wine business all my life,” Diaz says. “I’ve seen it progress from an obscure thing to a fad, and now there’s so many more people who have heard about it and are interested. I hope that allows for more inclusiveness.”

Diaz, whose parents were Mexican farm laborers in the Central Valley, began making natural wines over a decade ago. Since then, he’s made an active effort to expand the natural wine scene in fresh directions, partnering with small vineyards and non-traditional clients to increase the visibility and availability of natural wines.

Collaborations like 2021’s “Uncle Larry’s Natural Orange” with San Francisco rapper Larry June and 2020’s “Grape Street Estate” with Los Angeles rapper 03 Greedo highlight Diaz’s vision to deliver natural wines to a wide range of consumers who might not typically go out of their way to find a bottle of ​​Verdelho or Zinfandel.

Close-up of two wine bottles; the white and orange label on the left reads "Uncle Larry's Natural Orange" while the purple label on the right reads "Grape Street Estate."
Joog displays a bottle of Uncle Larry’s Natural Orange (left) and 03 Greedo’s Grape Street Estate — both made in collaboration with California-based rappers. (Alan Chazaro)

His unorthodox approach to winemaking is what attracted members of Bussdown, including SMAX’s Joog and visual artist Shido, who have joined Diaz on the mission to demystify natural wines.

“We wanted to make the natural wine space more accessible to our community — POC, brown folks, creatives,” says Joog, a Filipino American from Vallejo who is a musician in addition to running his food pop-up. “That’s our main community. We’ve found that natural wine feels like it doesn’t belong to us. We wanted to change that naturally. There’s no pretense to it. We just want it open to anyone.”

They aren’t hyperbolizing, either. There’s an ultra chill, funky vibe at the Study Wine Bar inside Purity, which has become a hot spot for an eclectic swath of natty wine lovers around the East Bay. After opening in 2017 as a cooperative of five natural winemakers, Diaz has since grown his space into a loose collective of 14 small-batch wine producers who each subscribe to similar values of organic, zero-zero production (i.e., with zero additives).

For anyone who might be unfamiliar with or skeptical of natural wines, Joog — who is learning the craft from Diaz in his spare time — explains them simply as wines made with “fruit and finesse.”

“It’s about winemakers letting the fruits express themselves,” he says. “The product gets closer to the actual fruit. No additives, only organic farming, nothing added, just fermented fruit.”

“I have no wine background,” he continues. “Noel created a space for me, even if I didn’t know the technical parts. I come from drinking White Claws; it’s like mystery alcohol (laughs). It’s about unlearning those things and getting closer to the fruits grown here in California.”

That appreciation for the natural, the unfiltered, the raw, is at the core of Purity Wine — not only for the products the winemakers deliver, but with their way of socializing, which aims to replace the perceived snobbery of a typical wine experience with purely welcoming vibes.

“This has been one of the more fruitful passion projects I got to do,” says Shido, who designs labels for the group. “We’re just vibing. It’s affirming to share that with others.”

Purity’s current wine collection includes the Yummo (a 2021 orange muscat), the Toesen One (a mix of grapes, blackberries, apples, and pluots from 2022) and the Orange Carbo Crush (a 2019 sparkling marsanne and roussanne blend).

This dynamic, multi-generational group is ten-toes down in the natural wine game, literally: Diaz and Shido both mashed grapes with their feet to make the Toesen One (a play on “chosen one”). It’s that “hippie” spirit, as Diaz puts it, that allows them to continue blending alternative ideas with quirky flavors and pouring up that positive energy for others. For one final time in 2022, they want to celebrate that with the public.

“Everyone gets to participate here,” says Diaz. “This is meant for us all to share and experience.”

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The Study Wine Bar’s NYE Wine Down will take place at 1401 Marina Way in Richmond on Sat., Dec. 31 from 9 p.m. until the party ends. Tickets are $75 per person and include all wine and bites for the night. For tickets, Venmo @PurityWine and include your name and “NYE.”

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