Hot on the Oakland/Alameda Wine Trail

Just an hour drive from Napa, Oakland and Alameda’s cool nautical breezes provide a welcome juxtaposition to the hills and valleys of wine country. The two Bayfront locales have reinvented themselves multiple times throughout the decades, and the current incarnations are arguably the most vibrant. Anchoring the area is Jack London Square, one of Oakland’s most identifiable landmarks. Situated along the estuary, the mixed-use promenade is Oakland’s only publicly accessible waterfront area, and the shops, restaurants, and lodging options that line the lively venue take full advantage of the maritime views.

Rent a kayak and hit the water.  Bring a bike and pedal in sync with the sailboats gliding by.  Load-up on fresh fruits and veggies at the Sunday farmers market. And though far from the valley vines, the wine is abundant. Downtown Oakland alone features eight wine tasting rooms and 14 wine bars – many of which are located within strolling distance of each other in Jack London Square. Oakland’s Urban Wine Trail and the tasting rooms of Alameda Point meander amongst reimagined airport hangars and renovated warehouse spaces where brick walls, high ceilings, and sliding garage- style doors provide an edgy contrast to Napa’s genteel tasting rooms. A few of our faves, and a couple bonus activities in the area:

 

BROOK LYN WEST

Named for the area’s former Brooklyn identity (yes, Brooklyn was a city in Alameda County in 1856), and for co- proprietor/winemaker Stew Epstein’s wife’s east coast birthplace, Brooklyn West is  best  known  for  its  Rioja- style wines; Epstein crafted the first Tempranillo in the US to earn a 90-point score from an American wine review publication. Brooklyn West’s range of small- lot wines are from some of California’s top vineyards, from the Central Coast to the Sierra Foothills. The gray-hued, communal tasting lounge features  a  bar, individual tables, and a bookshelf stocked with board games. Grab some takeout from the Sunday farmers market and settle in. Weekdays 5pm-9pm, Saturday 12pm-8pm, and Sunday 12pm – 6pm. 201 3rd St., Oakland

brook lyn west

MINIMO

This expansive and airy wine shop focuses on small-production, independently owned wineries that follow sustainable practices in farming, sourcing, winemaking, and workforce. Interestingly, these particular vintners/wineries appear to also have an eye for design. Stop in if only to survey the incredible variety of original and artistic wine labels. Find domestic on one wall, European on another, and Rosé in the middle. More than just a retail wine shop, Minimo is a neighborhood gathering space in which to enjoy and learn about wine. Co-owner Erin Coburn is dedicated to connecting people with the stories behind unique wines, and to building a community of wine lovers, regardless of expertise level. Tuesday-Friday 12pm-8pm, Saturday 11am – 8pm, Sunday 11am – 7pm. 420 3rd St., Oakland

mimino

ROSENBLUM CELLARS

Oakland’s original urban winery, Rosenblum Cellars opened in Alameda in 1978 when the area was known for its docks and shipyards rather than for winemaking. Today, the Rosenblum Cellars wine tasting room is just steps from the Oakland Ferry Terminal. Bay and estuary views enhance the relaxed, light-flooded indoor space and its outdoor patio where a wide variety of California sourced Zinfandels and other Rhone-style wines are poured Monday – Thursday  11  am  –  7 pm, Friday – Saturday 11 am – 9 pm, and Sunday 11 am – 7 pm.  Enjoy a tasting, have a glass, or share a bottle with friends while relishing the views. 10 Clay St., Oakland

CÔTE WEST

Located just a few miles beyond Jack London Square, Côte West is noteworthy as one of only two urban wineries in Oakland making its wine on-site. Husband and wife team Bret and Kerrie Hogan use grapes from premium California vineyards and old-world, minimal intervention techniques to produce single varietals including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Counoise, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm to 6 pm with winery tours available weekdays by reservation only. 2102 Dennison St., Suite A, Oakland

 

DASHE CELLARS

Now located in Alameda’s  Spirits  Alley,  Dashe Cellars anchored the Jack London Square wine scene for 15 years before its recent move, and it makes our list for its incredible bay and city views. It was 1996 when Michael and Anne Dashe selected an urban warehouse in which to craft their Dry Creek Zinfandel, with the belief that wine lovers shouldn’t have to travel to wine country to taste exceptional wines. In their new location – a historic airplane hangar – the duo remains focused on producing exceptional, single-vineyard wines using a non-industrial approach including small-lot fermentation, the use of indigenous yeasts, and little-to-no fining or filtration. Open Thursday-Sunday 1 pm-7 pm; drop-ins welcome. Reservations required for groups of eight or more.   Bonus: A food truck is on-scene every Saturday. 1951 Monarch St #300, Alameda

 

JACK LONDON SQUARE FARMERS MARKET

Find produce, food craft products, and breakfast and lunch vendors at this vibrant outdoor market that lines the waterfront every Sunday, rain or shine. Founded in 1989, the market is operated by CUESA – Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating a sustain- able food system through the operation of farmers markets and educational programs. Make sure to visit the CUESA Food Shed for a free seasonal tasting and to pick up easy and delicious market recipes to take home. Kids love the CUESA Kids’ Corner crafts and activities. Every Sunday, 10 am – 3 pm, year- round, rain or shine. Palm Plaza, near Jack London’s Cabin.

 

Rest your head

Enjoyed the wine trails a little too much? Rest your head at the Rosenblum Cellars- adjacent Waterfront Hotel. The name says it all; rooms are poised towards the bay and a sparkling swimming pool fronts the harbor. A central lobby fireplace provides warmth on foggy nights while the complimentary evening wine hour en- courages camaraderie. Nautically decorated, this Joie De Vivre hotel, part of the Hyatt family, is a prime example of the brand’s ethos – unique accommodations reflective of the vibrant neighborhoods in which they are located. For sustenance, don’t miss the hotel’s Lungomare restaurant where house-made salumi, pastas, and gelato are served with a view. Chef Melinda Vaca applies traditional Italian technique to pasture-raised meats, seasonal produce, and heirloom grains to create a blend of old world and new. A great selection of on-tap wines and beers allows for sampling of the best local brewers and vintners. 10 Washington Street

 

Article By: Fran Miller