Bay Area Urban Wineries
Call it an Otis Redding day. REDding, no less. In a busy life of work, school, commitments, relationships, kids, and travel, maybe you just don’t have time to head way out into California’s wine country.
Instead, try some “ sippin’ on the dock o’ the bay” to slake your wine thirst and indulge in some Zin therapy. It is possible to sniff, sip, and swirl your way through some of Califonia’s best Zinfandels and hidden tasting rooms – while “wathcin’ the ships roll in…” right on the eastern shores of the San Francisco Bay! These recommended wineries will not only greatly impress you with excellent examples of America’s heritage grape, they will provide you with a memorable day of fun and gracious hospitality, delectable foods, ocean air, and breath-taking views that will remind you what a special place this is to be able to work – and play – by the bay.
Rock Wall Wine Company
In his day, Kent Rosenblum was considered by so many as “the king of Zin” and “the ski king”. How appropriate his new family winery is on Monarch Street. A veterinarian, inveterate ski bum, and wine pioneer and raconteur, Kent converted legions of wine lovers to the joys of Zinfandel.
Since his passing in 2018, Kent’s daughter, winemaker, and business partner, Shauna Rosenblum, has fully taken the reins of the winery and established something of a wine wonderland on the old naval air base on the island of Alameda. Get a bite to eat picnic-style and drink in the amazing views of the San Francisco skyline. Join in on one of the many events held in the old aircraft hangar. Arrange a group tasting in the spacious geodesic dome. Classic Zinfandels and eclectic vineyard wines and creative blends are standards here. It’s never boring in Shauna’s world! Be on the lookout for the Jesse’s Vineyard Zinfandel from nearby Contra Costa County and the great Monte Rosso Vineyard.
Just walking distance down Monarch St. which is now known as Spirits Alley for all its artisanal beverage producers, is a highly affable new winemaker neighbor with some serious Zinfandel pedigree – Dashe Cellars. Mike Dashe has been crafting Zinfandels from all over California since 1989. Nobody knows Zin better. Since their own winery launched in 1996 Mike and his wife Anne have specialized in small lot Zinfandels from historic vineyards. Their new winery location gives them lots of space in which to work plus a spectacular venue where they can host their army of fans, and share their wines. “We love to bring out the expression of each region of Zinfandel we make,” says Mike. “The enthusiasm of our customers for great Zinfandel has been one of our heartfelt joys in making wine over the years,” he adds. Every Zin Dashe makes is a Zin masterpiece but inquire about the Evangelho Vineyard in neighboring Contra Costa County from vines planted in 1890. Yes, that is eighteen ninety – a truly historic living landmark vineyard.
R & B Cellars
Point Richmond, California
From Alameda it’s about a 30 minute trip up north to historic Point Richmond and Riggers Loft, the home of R&B Cellars. From Alameda, take 880 north to 580 then exit to Canal Boulevard and head for the bay shore and Riggers Loft. As you might have guessed, as the name suggests, this is the Bay Area’s escape for wine and music lovers! Kevin and Barbara Brown are both pro musicians and winemakers by trade and in 1997 created a bayside winery venue where people can come together to share their passions – all on a stage where everyone has a front row seat to a surrounding San Francisco Bay, the bay’s bridges and city skyline. Point Richmond is no newcomer to wine as this was the location of Winehaven, the largest winery in California – before Prohibition changed everything. In those days ship after ship headed out of California with loads of wine destined for the East Coast and beyond. Many of the historic WWII and old fortress buildings remain and have been re-purposed. Riggers Loft offers tastings of R&B’s outstanding-value, music-themed wines, as well as chef-designed foods and daily live performances. Winemaker/owners Kevin and chanteuse wife Barbara are known to often sit in for a piece or two. A special Zinfandel to look for – and a great deal – is their Swingsville Zinfandel from the Del Barba vineyard in Contra Costa County.