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D.C.’s Debut Natural Wine Bar Boasts Drake Quotes and Local Pours

The new home of unadulterated vino is open on H Street

Stacey Khoury-Diaz’s new wine bar opened for business September 20.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

A new homegrown wine bar featuring “all natural” wines is now open in the Atlas District, adding D.C. to the growing roster of cities that have embraced more conscientious drinking.

Dio Wine Bar, which officially opened its doors September 20, focuses on wine produced from organic or biodynamically grown grapes. “Not a lot of people know there’s an incredible amount of additives that go into winemaking,” founder Stacey Khoury-Diaz tells Eater. “There is a vast array of interventions you can take to change wine.”

Those tweaks range from introducing additional acid or tannins into the mix, or extracting water to increase alcohol or sugar levels.

After ditching her career in international development, Sonoma County native Khoury-Diaz decided to spread her knowledge about natural wines by going the brick-and-mortar route.

“We are creating a program that is more transparent. We want to create a space where people can walk in and ask about what they’re drinking,” she says.

The wine collection at Dio.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

So how prevalent are natural wine bars? New York, Boston, and San Francisco all have a constituency, but it’s new territory for D.C.

While there’s no legal definition for “natural wine” the lineup of 30 wines on Dio’s opening menu ranges from local products to those adhering to sustainable farming practices. An unfiltered rose from Rosemont in Virginia makes a deliberate effort not to remove sediment, which is said to add a distinct flavor.

Customers peruse the wine list at Dio.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

There’s also a sparkling grüner veltliner from Old Westminster Winery that’s grown on a limestone hillside in western Maryland.

Family-owned Old Westminster Winery does a native yeast fermentation on its wines.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Bottles range from $40 to $120. Two-thirds of the list can be purchased by the glass ($12 to $18). Some of the wines aren’t your average Whole Food finds, which makes the event of going out for date night extra special.

Cozy tables at Dio.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

One dry style is made from apples in the northeast and not distributed in D.C. but was driven down directly from Vermont (“natural winemaking can overlap with cider makers,” Khoury-Diaz notes). She also scored some varietals that are normally reserved for club members.

Customers line the bar at Dio.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

A compact menu of bar snacks like olives and pickles will later evolve to include cheese and charcuterie. Meanwhile, a weekday happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. will slash wine prices down to $7 or $8.

Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Spirits play a small part in the operation. Cocktails include all locally made products such as Green Hat Gin from New Columbia Distillers, and flavored liqueurs from Don Ciccio and Figli.

Khoury-Diaz admits she’s not a designer, billing the construction process as a “bootstrapped effort.” So she consulted with friends more versed in aesthetics when it came to coordinating colors and textures.

She worked with a local calligrapher to come up with six wine-related quotes splashed across the floor. A favorite is the “Lobster and Shrimp” visible upon entry, an ode to rapper Drake’s favorite pairing to his moscato.

Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

“It’s a reference to how much the hip hop community has influenced wine over time. Moscato is huge among R&B artists,” she says.

Family pictures dot the walls, with one depicting her best friend’s grandfather enjoying his own homegrown wine in California. Wine cork art and other knickknacks line the 900-square-foot space.

The new Dio Wine Bar on H Street NE.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Part of her inspiration behind the look was Thomas Jefferson’s welcoming Monticello estate.

Dio is scheduled to open at 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Status: Certified open. 904 H Street NE; website.