New Opening: Clay Is A New Bar Devoted To Natural Wine On K Rd

By Sarah Downs
Owners Brendan Manning (left) and Dan Gillett of natural wine bar Clay. Photo / Babiche Martens

After a tasty preview in October, Clay has opened on Karangahape Rd, giving Auckland a bar devoted to natural wines, made with little or no intervention.

Owners Brendan Manning and Dan Gillett’s preference for all-natural drops is on full display, with an array of exciting, interesting bottles stored in one of five fridges (set to perfect serving temperature) lining one wall of the long, narrow space.

Dan has been distributing local and international natural wine varieties into New Zealand for the past four years with his company Wine Diamonds, and Clay follows his opening of Everyday Wine this year a Wellington-based natural wine store and the excellent Scotch Wine Bar in Blenheim.

The appetite for all things natural has grown rapidly in recent times, with tipples appearing on more restaurant menus and wine-store shelves. “I’d say it’s impossible to have an interesting wine list without natural wine now,” says Dan. “I still expect a lot of Clay’s offering to be unfamiliar to most, but we have a wide range of wines in a wide range of styles. There’s something for everyone.”

The bottle list is huge at Clay, along with daily changing glass pours. The bar also has an off-licence, so you can swing by to buy a bottle of Pét-nat to go.

The food menu by chef Ralph Jenner (ex Welcome Eatery) is designed to complement drinking: snacky things like devilled eggs and cold cuts, pizzas, and changing plates such as juicy burrata with stone fruit. The interior’s centrepiece is a 10m communal table, or patrons can cosy up at the four-seater bar in the window. There’s also an enclosed courtyard.

The name, Clay, was chosen to reflect the origin of their wine, explains Brendan. “A lot of our favourite wines are grown in clay and as you walk into the space, you are standing on a mosaic floor made out of hand-glazed tiles, fired from Warkworth clay, that we laid ourselves.”

Clay, 366 K Rd, open Wed-Thu 4pm-late, Fri-Sat 12pm-late. @clay_366krd

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