In part one of this report on the East Bay Vintners Alliance “Passport to East Bay’s Urban Wine County”, you learned about some of these urban wineries located in Berkeley. The East Bay Vintners also have member wineries in Alameda and Oakland, plus the Livermore and Castro Valley area.
Near Jack London Square in Oakland you will find two East Bay Vintners, Urban Legend and Jeff Cohn Cellar.
Some might think that having a winery in the middle of a city is in itself an urban legend. But in this case it is true. Urban Legend focuses on breaking down those urban legends of how and where to make wine and invites wine lovers to stop by their winery on Fourth Street in Oakland. The Urban Legend 2011 Thomson Vineyard Pinot Noir from Carneros delivered great red cherry and raspberry flavors with a nice touch of spice and cedar. The 2012 Holland Landing Tempranillo from Clarksburg has a nice dark color and you will enjoy the dark red fruit aromas and flavors including cherry, raspberry and spice.
Jeff Cohn Cellars at Jack London Square specializes in small-lot, single-vineyard designate wines and Rhone inspired red and white blends. Jeff Cohn enhanced his craft as the winemaker for Rosenblum prior to starting his own winery and has access to some of the premier vineyards in California. The 2013 Smoke & Mirrors is a Rhone inspired blend of Syrah, Grenache, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Alicante Boucshet. Starting with the deep rich color, this wine delivers an exciting bouquet of wild hers, blackberry and strawberry. The palate continues with these flavors and you will like the meaty smoky quality with a pleasant amount of spices leading to a nice finish. This wine has consistently brought home scores in the 90’s even though the blend changes every year. As Jeff states, “Smoke & Mirrors lets me work with several wines from several properties. There is no formula or equation for how they’ll be made each vintage, so each release will be a secret, waiting to be revealed.” The 2012 Misc. Stuff brings together Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre for a great GSM blend. The grapes come from Rockpile (world famous for its Zins) and Paso Robles (famous for its Rhone varietals). The aromas and flavors that jump from the glass include blackberry, cola, dark fruit, baking spices and a touch of Asian spice.
Head south on I-880 to the Dennison Street exit to visit two more Oakland urban wineries, Stage Left Cellars and Irish Monkey Cellars. In this area of Oakland you will find many businesses oriented towards the Marine business and the Alameda U.S. Coast Guard Base on Coast Guard Island nearby. There is plenty of parking at these wineries and minimal traffic on the weekends during tasting hours.
Stage Left Cellars obtains grapes from some of the premier vineyards in California and handcrafts small lot wines featuring Rhone varietals. As with many urban winemakers, the founders of Stage Left started with a love of fine wines that grew to home winemaking to opening a commercial winery. See what passion can do? In the theater, when the act is over, the actors will exit Stage Left. At Stage Left the owner, Melinda Doty, sees the winery as a path to discovery, an exit from the every day. And she hopes to share this with Stage Left customers.
The Stage Left 2013 Rose is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignane from Camp 4 Vineyard in Santa Barbara County. The color on this wine is a beautiful deep salmon and the fruits on this refreshing wine can be a summer delight with wild strawberry, cranberry and a nice tartness. The Stage Left 2010 Syrah “The Escape Artist” is from Farview Road Ranch in Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. On the nose you will love the red cherry, pepper and clove. At your first taste you will enjoy the big, ripe red cherry and raspberry flavors, and a perfect blend of acidity, tannins and spice. By the way, you will love the interesting labels, each of which has a wonderful message on the philosophy of life.
Irish Monkey Cellars has been known for producing wines that have fruit forward style, moderate oak, varietal character and the good, flinty, and earthy aromas of hand pressed grapes. Winemaker Bob Lynch had been monkeying around making wine and beers for friends and was winning awards for it. And like many others moved on to opening a commercial winery. So when someone suggested as a name “Irish Monkey”, Bob, with his Irish background thought that the name fit. He now handcrafts a wide variety of wines at Irish Monkey Cellars at 1017 22nd Avenue in Oakland.
The Irish Monkey 2012 Reserve Sangiovese from Alexander Valley is a delightful wine loaded with Sangiovese aromas and flavors including red cherry, strawberry, basil, black pepper, spice, earthiness and a bit of chocolate. These flavors combine with the right amount of acidity and tannins to carry on to a great food pairing wine. The 2009 Merlot from Lovall Valley in Napa is a complex wine alive with aromas of rose petals, spice and black cherries. On the palate you will enjoy the lush flavors of blackberry, black cherry, cassis, fresh herbs and black pepper. The rich fruit flavors, fine tannin and balanced acidity extends deep into the long finish.
It was very exciting to discover these hidden gems of wineries tucked into the urban landscape of the East Bay. Do not miss these wineries and the others who are part of the East Bay Vintners Alliance. Other East Bay urban wineries that are in the alliance include
- R&B Cellars
- Rock Wall Wine Company
- Eno Wines
- Lusu Cellars
- Aubin Cellars
- Cerruti Cellars
- Dashe Cellars
- Periscope Cellars
- Rosenblum Cellars
- Two Mile Wines
- Chouinard Vineyard and Winery
- Ehrenberg Cellars
For more information:
- East Bay Vintners Alliance
- Irish Monkey Cellars
- Jeff Cohn Cellars
- Stage Left Cellars
- Urban Legend