By Granate Sosnoff
The first time I visited Robert Lynch’s Irish Monkey winery, I found myself in a warehouse-type district on the edge of the San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland during a community bottling party. Lynch was there, hands-on, orchestrating the whole thing. I had come for a tasting and ended up putting corks in Sangiovese (and then tasting).
Events like this go on all the time with urban winemakers in the East Bay. Tasting rooms run the gamut, from charming makeshift barrel-tables alongside actual barrels of wine, to full-on Napa-style rooms at Cerruti or Rock Wall of Alameda.
Most East Bay wineries are members of the East Bay Vintners Alliance (EBVA), a group that’s grown from an original eight to over 20 wineries. Aug. 1, the alliance hosts its annual Urban Wine Xperience (UWX) offering a unique opportunity to taste a wide variety of great wines made by local winemakers including those without tasting rooms.
From 1 to 4 p.m. at 55 Harrison St. in Oakland, wine and food lovers who get their tickets early (the event sold out last year) will get to taste the delicacies of local restaurants such as Nido and Chop Bar, paired with over 60 different wines from over 20 urban winemakers.
Steve Shaffer is the president of EBVA and, together with wife Marilee Shaffer, the owner and winemaker of Urban Legend Cellars (ULC) in Oakland. He’s been part of the alliance since ULC’s inception.
“East Bay Vintners represents the oldest and largest urban winemaking scene in the country. Members support each other to succeed in an industry where 98% of all wine in the U.S. is produced by five companies,” said Shaffer.
I tasted some of the wines that will get poured at the event. Here are some of my favorites:
2014 Grenache Blanc, Capay Valley
Crisp, yummy, great on a warm day. Wondering where this wine’s been all my life.
2013 Chardonnay, Anderson Valley
Not a Chardonnay that comes with the word “buttery.”
2013 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley
Head-shaking Zinfandel. What is this? Is it French? Let’s drink it all.
2010 Cabernet, Coombsville, Napa Valley
Urban Legend Cellars
ULC’s first Cabernet: the benefit of being a good guy landed these coveted Napa grapes in Steve Shaffer’s hands. Delicious +1000.
2013 “Smoke & Mirrors” Red blend
Jeff Cohn Cellars
Sometimes a blend turns into something you didn’t know could exist. I don’t get the name but this (mostly) Zin and Petite Sirah wine is yum.
Participating wineries include: Aubin Cellars, Carica Wines, Chouinard Vineyard and Winery, Dashe Cellars, Jeff Cohn Cellars, Mead Kitchen, R&B Cellars, Rock Wall Wine Company, Rosenblum Cellars, Stage Left Cellars, Paradox Wines, Urban Legend and Urbano Cellars, with more wineries set to join.
Buying tickets in advance is highly suggested. Use code “save30” to get a discount on tickets. $45 in advance, $70 at the door. More information is available here.