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While Sacramento’s restaurant and coffee scenes boom, we’ve often wondered–where are the wine bars? Sensing the need for something new, natural, and women-led, Kaila Niles and Emily Wilder, co-owners of design company Wool, opened Jeune, Sacramento’s first natural wine bar. Jeune is a pop-up tucked into the Ice Blocks, just a couple of doors down from Milk Money and Beast + Bounty. We were excited to be among the first to check out this new addition to Sacramento’s ever-expanding restaurant and bar scene.
Walking in, we found the space to be modern and minimalistic, with the natural focus of the space being the wine itself. The space seems to reflect the owners’ eye for design; the two also designed Camellia Coffee Roasters, Together, and a few other spaces around Sacramento. The end result is a space that balances minimalist, modern, and feminine design effortlessly. Natural wood pieces fill the bright, open room and soft florals, pops of color, and a neon light are just a few of the thoughtful design elements.
Kaila and Emily’s shared passion for Jeune and for each of the wines from their selection was apparent. We discovered that it was this shared passion for wine that sparked the initial idea last year, and which quickly came to fruition just in these past few months alone. The overall atmosphere of Jeune felt both welcoming and non-threatening. All eleven wines poured while we were there were from wineries the owners feel showcase some of the best natural wines being produced right now that are “unique,” that are also “representative of the makers,” as their “introduction to natural wines for Sacramento” with Jeune.
We took on the delightful task of tasting Jeune’s wine selection as Kaila and Emily poured from behind the bar. We talked about their shared passion for design, natural wine, and elevating women in the workplace.
So how did you two meet?
K+E: Our meeting was kismet. Kaila saw Emily with her daughter in the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op parking lot and asked her for a playdate. The rest was history, and out of that first playdate grew two great friendships (their daughters are close friends too) and two businesses. With Wool, we always strive to create the places we want to see and visit in Sacramento and Jeune is the embodiment of that.
We are here to talk about Jeune of course, but tell us a little about Wool.
K+E: Wool is a multidisciplinary design studio focused on interior design, brand development, and creative consultation. We work primarily in the commercial sector, but our projects are super varied and we also love to do residential!
Do you have any Wool projects in the works?
K+E: We are currently working on the first brick-and-mortar for Sacramento bakery, Faria.
For Jeune, what was it like designing your own space compared to designing for clients? What was your strategy?
K+E: Because the summer iteration of Jeune was presented to us as a pop-up opportunity, we really played with the concept of temporary versus permanent. The budget and timeline forced us to be scrappy, which we love because those are the situations that really bring out unique ideas. We are super happy with how things turned out. We wanted the space to be part of the experience and customers have responded well to it, it’s a restrained and a very relaxed place to be.
Where did the name Jeune come?
K+E: Jeune means young in French. Our intention with that was to create a space and experience that evoked that feeling of being young, in the summer, when the day goes on forever and it still feels like anything could happen. Joyful, easy, open.
What made you decide to open a natural wine bar?
K+E: As with all of our Wool projects, we strive to create the places we want to be, supporting those businesses and concepts that really benefit Sacramento. We wanted somewhere beautiful and welcoming to drink awesome wine and were inspired to build that dream. We are also passionate about natural wine and were excited to be a part of the community of natural wine lovers here in Sacramento.
How would you describe natural wine to someone who’s never heard of it before today?
K+E: Even though natural winemaking harkens back to some of the oldest methods of creating wine, its definition is still very fluid and changes depending on who you talk to. For us, natural wines start with grapes grown organically or biodynamically, with low to no intervention from grape to bottle. These winemakers are not manipulating the process with commercial yeasts or other chemicals, instead, they are letting the terroir speak for itself through their incredible skills. We love that these wines are complex and truly tell the story of both the winemaker and where the wine comes from.
Why did you decide to feature female winemakers?
K+E: It was important for us to showcase both female winemakers and California wines for the first list we presented to Sacramento. Even in the natural wine world, it can be a bit of a boy’s club. There are very talented, passionate female winemakers making incredible wines. It wasn’t hard to find plenty to offer!
How was the process of finding natural wines by female winemakers with intentional design that are also delicious? Seems like a lot to balance!
K+E: We did a lot of tastings with various distributors, explaining ahead of time what we were looking for; the people we worked with (shout out to Amy Grabish and Tyler Stacy) spent a lot of time with us, bringing us wines they knew we would love, answering questions, and helped us train our staff. They are both close friends now! In the wine you can really taste the place it comes from and the influence of the person who made it, just as Jeune really has the presence of all those responsible for it coming together. It truly is a family spot.
What are a few of your favorite women-owned businesses in Sacramento?
K+E: So many! We have some continuing partnerships with some incredible women in business in Sacramento, including Jessica Miller of Oak & Ash, who provides the florals for Jeune and wove us the grass piece that hangs on the wall. We loved designing the space for the women of Together, they do amazing things. Old Gold is a favorite spot to shop for treasures. All of the women who work at Jeune happen to have their own awesome businesses. Natasha Scott makes custom suits at Scott. Meagan Lewis owns Brown Pigeon, making custom stamps and is also a finalist for Calling All Dreamers for her pottery concept, the Spottery. Tamara Proctor is a flower and quail farmer and Roxanne Brodeur Young is a Renaissance woman, making otherworldly fiber art pieces to wear and for home! Olga Tyannikov is a hair magician over at Space07 Salon. Too many to name! Sacramento is an awesome place to start your own small business.
Any plans for a permanent location for Jeune?
K+E: It’s definitely something we are discussing seriously. When we came up with the concept a year ago, we never imagined a pop-up. We intended a permanent space that would also include a retail bottle-shop and offer small bites. We are hoping to keep Jeune permanently, but are also very much enjoying this summer and all of the incredible people who have joined us for a glass (or two!) of wine! The customers have truly exceeded all expectations and it has been a blast getting to know so many people in this community and beyond.
Pouring a variety of different natural wines, the pair wants to serve wine “that people recognize, that’s varietally true, but also happens to be made naturally.” Jeune began with featuring female winemakers and intends to shift their wines each month. With current plans to showcase French natural wines this month, we are certainly excited to see what they will bring next as their selection evolves. With price points listed both by the glass and by the bottle, visitors can enjoy wine either at the bar, within the beautiful courtyard they share within the Ice Blocks, or even as the perfect addition for a picnic to-go.
Jeune plans to expand their offerings to include small bites and pizzas courtesy of Beast + Bounty. And for those of you looking for the perfect date night idea, stay tuned to upcoming events as they hinted at the possibility of movies in the courtyard featuring a pizza from Beast + Bounty and a bottle of wine from Jeune (you’re welcome).
Stay up to date with all things happening at Jeune here.
Note: Since this article was published, Jeune’s pop-up at the Ice Blocks has closed. As of fall 2019, Emily and Kaila now offer a natural wine subscription service, Jeune Wine Club, with monthly curated natural wines and events for wine club members.
Photos | Anya McInroy
Stay connected with all things Sacramento and beyond.