Wine country is now 15 minutes from downtown San Francisco, thanks to the surge in wine producers that are popping up all over the East Bay (and in San Francisco proper, too!). Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley are now home to more than a dozen wineries that range in size from a couple of people and a couple of barrels, to some of California's most lauded wineries.
A couple of years ago, these wineries got together and formed a marketing association that would help them all gain more visibility. This organization, known as the East Bay Vintners Alliance, has begun to put on yearly tastings to showcase the wines of its members and make good on the promise of an urban wine country in the East Bay.
I had a chance to sneak off to Oakland a couple of weeks ago on a picture perfect sunny day and hang out with the hundreds of Bay Area wine lovers that showed up to sample wines and special food pairings from some great restaurants in the area.
The event was, as far as I can tell, a smashing success. The weather alone would have made it a pleasant enough experience, but the food was quite good, including a huge cheese spread that I made several passes on once I had finished tasting all the wines.
This was my first opportunity to sample wines from all the members of the Vintners Alliance, and I'm happy to report that there's some truly great wine being made in the East Bay's urban wineries, and not just by the established names like J.C. Cellars, Dashe, and Rosenblum. There were a number of wines that were not to my taste, but the bulk of the wines were competently made and if they weren't all spectacular, they certainly all showed both the hard work as well as promise of several new small producers.
My scores from my tasting follow below. Prices quoted are the suggested retail price for purchase direct from the winery.
Photo courtesy of John Joh.
WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2007 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel L'Enfant Terrible McFadden Farms, Potter Valley. $24.00
2006 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Todd Brothers Ranch, Alexander Valley. $32.00
2006 JC Cellars Marsanne Preston Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley. $32.00
2007 Rosenblum Cellars Viognier Kathy's Cuvee.Winery only.
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel Kontrabecki. Winery only.
WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2006 Aubin Cellars Verve French Colombard Domaine de Mirail, Cotes de Gascone. $12.00
2007 Dashe Cellars Dry Riesling McFadden Farms, Potter Valley. $20.00
2006 Eno Wines Grenache "Yes, Dear..." Eagle Point Ranch, Mendocino. $28.00
2007 JC Cellars Rose Stagecoach Vineyard, Napa Valley. $18.00
2007 Prospect 772 Rosé "Babydoll" Sierra Foothills. $15.00
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Petite Sirah Pickett Road. Winery only.
WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2006Â Andrew Lane Gamay Noir, Napa Valley. $19.00
2005 Andrew Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. $28.00
2006 Dashe Cellars Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley. $24.00
2006 Eno Wines Pinot Noir "Never Say Never" Santa Lucia Highlands. $32.00
2006 Eno Wines Zinfandel "Acres of Happiness" Teldeschi Vyds Dry Creek Valley. $28.00
2005 Eno Wines Syrah "S05" Las Madres Vineyard, Carneros. $35.00
2006 JC Cellars Syrah California Cuveé . $25.00
2006 Lost Canyon Winery Pinot Noir Morelli Lane, Russian River Valley. $42.00
2006 Lost Canyon Winery Pinot Noir Saralee, Russian River Valley. $42.00
2006 Prospect 772 Grenache/Syrah "The Brawler" Sierra Foothills. $36.00
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Rosie Rabbit Late Harvest Zinfandel Winery only.
2007 Two Mile Wines Viognier Bloomfield Vineyards , Central Coast . $23.00
NV Adam's Point White After Dinner Wine. $16.00
WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2005 Andrew Lane Cabernet Franc, Oakville. $35.00
2005 Andrew Lane Merlot, Napa Valley. $17.00
2006 A Donkey And Goat Three Thirteen (Southern Rhône style blend). $37.00
2006 A Donkey And Goat Syrah The Recluse, Anderson Valley. $37.00
2006 Lost Canyon Winery Reserve Syrah Trenton Station, Russian River Valley. $35.00
2006 Prospect 772 Syrah "The Brat" Sierra Foothills. $36.00
2006 Tayerle Wines Carneros Pinot Noir . $30.00
2007 Urbano Cellars Vin Rose Solano County Green Valley. $14.00
2006 Urbano Cellars Syrah Dry Creek Valley. $19.00
NV Adam's Point Mango Dessert Wine. $16.00
NV Adam's Point Persimmon Dessert Wine. $16.00
WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2006 Irish Monkey Cabernet Franc, Lodi. $29.00
2006 Aubin Cellars Verve Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. $28.00
2005 Aubin Cellars Verve Syrah Columbia Valley. $26.00
2006 Aubin Cellars Verve Sauvignon Blanc Paso Robles. $14.00
2006 Tayerle Wines Savignon Blanc Villa San Julliette . $12.00
2006 Two Mile Wines Petite Sirah Rosciano Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $34.00
WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2006 Lost Canyon Winery Syrah Alegria, Russian River Valley. $35.00
2006 Periscope Cellars Deep 6, California(6 Grape Red Blend). $24.00
2006 Urbano Cellars Petit Verdot Lodi. $16.00
WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7.5 AND 8
2006 Irish Monkey Syrah Lovall - Borneman Lavender Farm. $26.00
2006 Periscope Cellars Sangiovese, Alexander Valley. $22.00
2006 Two Mile Wines Sangiovese Polesky-Lentz Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley. $42.00
2005 Urbano Cellars Old Vine Zinfandel Solano County Green Valley. $18.00
WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 7.5
2006 Periscope Cellars Petite Verdot, Lodi. $18.00
WINES SCORING BETWEEN 7 AND 7.5
2006 Irish Monkey Cabernet Sauvignon, "MEF". $35.00
WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 7
2006 Irish Monkey Primitivo Lovall Valley, Napa Valley. $30.00
WINES WITH A SCORE BELOW 7
2006 Periscope Cellars Zinfandel, Sonoma County. $20.00
NV Adam's Point Chocolate Dessert Wine. $16.50
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
How to Help Lake County After the Fire Wine and Words in Three Volumes I'll Drink to That: Robert Bohr of Charlie Bird Vinography Images: Over a Barrel Warm Up: Sicilian Wine I'll Drink to That: Salvatore Geraci of Palari Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 27, 2015 Wine News: What I'm reading the Week of 9/27 The Lodi Zinfandel Revolution Continues I'll Drink to That: Master Sommelier Guy Stout
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune