The winter holidays are around the corner, and we wanted to share these ideas for shopping local in Berkeley from Quirkeley, featuring Urbano Cellars and Mead Kitchen.
We would like to announce the new EBVA board members for 2015:
President: Steve Shaffer (Urban Legend)
Vice President – Adam Nelson (Two Mile Wines)
Treasurer – Alexandra Cohn (Jeff Cohn Cellars)
Secretary – Dominic Reo (Paradox Wines)
At this time of year several of our member wineries will get asked by wine club members and tasting room visitors, ‘What wine do you recommend to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?’
Here are just a few excellent choices for your holiday table:
From Barbara Brown at R&B Cellars:
White wine: Turkey is rich meat and requires a white with a little oomph. As such, Chardonnay is always a great choice. R&B Cellars 2012 Sarabande Chardonnay, from the Russian River, is fermented in a combination of French oak and concrete fermentation vessels. This creates a beautiful wine with lots of depth, great flavors of pear and apple, caramel and delicious mineral tones that come from the time spent in the concrete eggs. Red wine: For a red wine, we would go for Zinfandel. A wine with lots of fruit characteristics and spicy notes, making it a great pair with turkey and all the trimmings. It also is America’s heritage grape making it perfect for Thanksgiving! R&B has a brand new release to offer up for Thanksgiving: 2011 Allegrezza Zinfandel: From the Harris Kratka Vineyard in Alexander Valley. Blackberries, dark black cherries and black raspberries, hints of dark chocolate, exotic spice and eucalyptus. The Improviser is a Zinfandel-based blend. It is a little lighter than a typical Zin making it a wonderful choice for Thanksgiving – About 60% Zinfandel, with Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Cabernet and Merlot. It’s our most popular wine. We simply cannot make it as fast as we sell it!
From Caroline Chouinard from Chouinard Vineyards:
Chouinard Vineyards makes a Granny Smith Apple Wine which is excellent with turkey. I add Granny Smith Apple Wine to the turkey gravy and baste the bird in butter and apple wine. An apple, raisin, onion dressing is perfect. For those that prefer a light red, we recommend our two dry and fruity roses-a petite sirah or barbara rosé.
From Justin L Smith, Direct to Consumer Sales Manager at Jeff Cohn Cellars:
2012 Stagecoach Vineyard, Two Guys | Two Barrels, Viognier: The perfect Thanksgiving wine, because of its vibrant acidity and minerality. There is just a hint of peach, apricot, and vanilla to stand up to all the accouterment of the holiday feast! Here’s a little more background on the uniqueness of the wine: In 2012, Jeff was able to convince his friend and famous Rhône producer, Yves Gangloff, that he’d found the perfect site in California to make Viognier. Yves was so impressed with the Stagecoach Vineyard in the Atlas Peak AVA, that he agreed to make a wine with Jeff. The wine was born out of the mutual respect that each of these winemakers has for one another and their love for Viognier. In the end, they created a truly unique, special, and soulful wine! On the palate: lemon and lime zest with a touch of minerals, dried peaches, and fresh apricots. The wine is lush, seamless, and lengthy from start to finish. 2012 Lancel Creek Vineyard, Pinot Noir: Another awesome choice, because this sturdy pinot noir has fresh tannins mixed with scents of dried fruits that will highlight any dish on the table. Thanksgiving is about food, family, and friends, and this pinot will be a thankful addition to the table!
From Margaret Dollbaum at Carica Wines
- What wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner? This is a great question, in light of many complicating factors–the traditional dishes are varied, rich, and run the gamut from piquant to savory to sweet. Thankfully, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one kind of wine! We like to start with a dry, crisp white wine, like Carica 2010 Sauvignon Blanc with appetizers or the first course, and then transition to Carica 2011 Grenache with the main course. Winemaker Charlie Dollbaum recommends Grenache with roast turkey and all the sides, because this medium-bodied wine’s fruit and spice flavors are not overwhelmed by assertive stuffing, deeply flavored roast vegetables, and sauces. The crisp, citrus-y quality of the wine perfectly complements the richness of foods like turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, and vegetable gratin. Don’t forget the Day-After-Thanksgiving Feast! For our traditional after-Thanksgiving turkey molé, the aromatic and savory Mexican sauce of roasted chilis, herbs, spices, and unsweetened chocolate, winemaker Charlie Dollbaum likes to offer his Carica Rhone-style Red Blend, called the ‘Siren’. Here’s why: The classic blend of Syrah, with its intense fruit flavor, plus Grenache and Mourvèdre, with their nuance of spice and earthiness, really complement the savory sauce. Even the classic Day-After Sandwich of roast turkey and cranberry sauce is complemented by a blended red wine like ‘Siren’—bold enough to stand up to the piquant sauce, and mellow enough to let the turkey goodness shine.
From Shauna Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wines:
Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to restock the wine collection and maybe include a few wines that you might not usually purchase. An instant go to is barrel fermented Chardonnay, as it pairs well with the richness of turkey but offers acid to make it refreshing as well. Rock Wall does a Russian River Chardonnay which is fermented in French oak, with half malolactic, so it keeps the fruit and acid in tact while maintaining a French vanilla and angel food cake finish. Plus the minerality from the Russian River terroir is a nice juxtaposition to the rich buttery flavors. A fun “other white” is Rock Wall’s Sparkling Blanc de Blancs. This fruity, but
dry blend of Chardonnay and splash of Muscat Canelli helps keep things festive and helps cleanse your palate while you’re digging into bite after bite of heavy turkey, dense gravy and green bean casserole. Whatever other family tradition dish your family might have, I bet it has butter, and the Blanc is professional at refreshing your tired taste buds…and it’s dang good with pumpkin pie too!
Pinot Noir or something with a lighter body is a great red pairing. Big Cabernets can overwhelm the softness of the flavors of turkey and stuffing, and don’t generally compliment cranberry sauce so well. However, something lighter can co-star alongside all of your Thanksgiving meal, and play up the buttery and rich flavors that are so prevalent in Thanksgiving meals. Rock Wall’s Russian River Pinot Noir is a beautiful Thanksgiving go-to, or if you’re in the mood for something more off the beaten path, the Super Alamedan is “super.” Super Alamedan is a blend of Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a splash of Zinfandel which does the same trick as Pinot Noir by offering a lighter body, easy drinker, and this one is a fun conversation piece as well.
From Dashe Cellars:
We have two great wines to pair with turkey. One is the 2013 Dry Riesling, MacFadden Farm from Potter Valley. Made in the style of the dry white wines from the Alsace region of France, it has a great depth of flavors: earthy, mineral, floral, and pear, apricot, and peach fruits. Its lovely texture and balance finishes extremely smoothly, with crisp acidity. This lovely wine is made from organically-grown vines in the mountains of Potter Valley, on the east border of Mendocino county. These 30-year-old vines grow in the white, chalky soil of the McFadden Farm, tucked up against the cool hillsides of the east side of the valley—a perfect environment for this kind of grape. The other is the 2013 Zinfandel ‘Les Enfants Terribles” Heart Arrow Ranch from Mendocino County. It is one of our favorite—and most unusual—wines, from one of the most pristine biodynamic farms in Mendocino County. The Heart Arrow ranch is a completely self-contained farm ecosystem: they not only grow grapes, but they have a large vegetable and fruit-tree farm, and raise pigs, cows, lambs, and chickens which fertilize the plants. The farming creates a site- specific terroir of the vineyard, which makes this wine different in aroma, flavor, and structure; almost more like a European wine than a classic California Zinfandel. Because of the way the grapes are grown, and because of the techniques we use to make this wine—fermented with the native yeasts on the grapes; aged in older French oak barrels; unfined; and bottled with low SO2 levels—we felt that it deserved to be labeled with our other wines in the Les Enfants Terribles (the “Wild Children”) series, which are made in a more Old World style. It deep red color holds flavors of wild strawberry, black raspberry, earthy and mineral, velvety mid-palate—quite balanced with a long, complex fruit finish and round tannins.
We were greatly saddened, as were so many others, for the winemakers and citizens of Napa and the surrounding area affected by the earthquake this past summer. We are heartened by the recovery efforts that continue there.
We came across these ‘Top Five Earthquake Tips for Wine Collectors’ from North Bay-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance, that we wanted to share with you.
Campovida is a family owned and operated certified organic farm and working vineyard in Hopland, with a tasting room in Oakland. This unique place offers deep connections with nature, wine tasting, a professional culinary kitchen, a 10-roomretreat center and multiple spaces for conversations both big and small. It’s a place where you can relax, enjoy and create your custom gatherings.
Some history: The place that now called Campovida has been home to the Pomo Indians of Sanel Valley, a cattle rancher, a railroad and timber baron, a hop broker, a lumber executive and a host of winemakers, each with a reverence and respect for the bio-diversity of this place. Each deeply concerned with preserving the land and its agricultural heritage. Part of a Mexican land grant, the property encompassed 1,300 acres in its original form. Fernando Feliz built an adobe house here in 1844 and raised his cattle. In 1890, A.W. Foster, a baron of timber and rail, purchased the land from the Peck estate and developed the property as it exists today, constructing all of the buildings from his Willits-based redwood holdings. He spent 45 years on the ranch, raising ponies, sheep, alfalfa, pears, prunes, grapes and hops. John Haas bought the land in 1942 and cultivated the fields for hops. In 1958, Bernard Fetzer bought a home on the property from John’s son Frederick in order to raise his family and grow grapes. Ten years later the Fetzers began growing grapes commercially. In 1981, after the death of the family patriarch, all 11 of the Fetzer children took on managing the vineyard with a commitment to environmentally-conscious stewardship and built the company as a leading varietal wine producer. They eventually created a world-renowned food and wine education center (Valley Oaks) and the organic gardens. In 1992 the Brown-Forman Corporation purchased the certified organic vineyard. In 2010, Anna Beuselinck and Gary Breen, fell in love with the property, becoming the current stewards of this beautiful land.
Who is the winemaker? If you, what got you interested in making wine?
Sabastian Cesano, he was making wine in Hopland with John Fetzer, and was doing what they call the custom crush program, making our wines under the mentorship of John and Alex MacGregor. We have 15 acres estate Viognier, we decided to try out making wine with Sebastian as our wine maker. We won the San Francisco Chronicle Gold for Viognier our first time out. When John ended the custom crush program, Sabastian knocked on our door, he is both the scientist and the artist, he has the phenology degree, but he really is an artisan when I comes to crafting each barrel, he manages them like his babies. He is originally from Chile and has been with us for 17 years. He studied down in Fresno. I believe he’ll be one of those winemakers to watch in California.
My husband, Gary Breen, is from Moraga. We invested in Oakland, and have owned the Linden St. brewery building, since 1996. The love for old things that have been forgotten, he’s been building out that building, from the 1890 building. I went to school in Berkeley, we have a lot of roots in Oakland (we started our family here) and Berkeley, so it just sort of made sense (to be here) when we started making wine and when we heard about this urban wine trail. We’re watching Adam at Linden St. Brewery and growing his opportunities. There is this circle happening at 101 that’s really important to be a part of.
We try to be connected to wine through the earth, not just about the wine, who the growers are, practices, how we take that pure varietal and make it the best wine without any kind of intervention, so it is truly the highest quality wine possible.
We are direct to consumer. You’ll find our wine in our tasting room or a few restaurants. ,
You can’t find us in retail shops, because you lose the conversation in the bottle, that’s what we’re up to, in a nut shell. When you are a farmer, you wake up in the middle of the night and worry about your framing stuff, and nature and all kinds of things, for me being involved in wine with my husband has been a real spiritual journey.
Where do you source fruit from?
We do have estate Viognier, and other grapes, all certified organic estate grapes, only from Mendocino County, farming certified organically, or bio dynamically.
What was the first wine you made?
Viognier, 2010 was the first of the custom crush.
Do you have a preference for any specific varietals? If so, why?
It’s like asking someone if they have a favorite child! It is difficult to pick. Our Rosé Grenache, 92 points, is my favorite of last year.
What makes you different and/or special?
I really think for us we have a connection to the growers that is our partnership and as a result a connection to the earth. We want to start the conversation from the earth to the wine, we’re minimalist in that way. People want to know the source of their products, wine is a great place to start asking those questions.
Do you have a visit-able winery?
The Oakland tasting room can be visited. It is open 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays; on Saturdays and Sundays we are open from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Some big news is that James Syhabout’s has opened Hawker Fare, which is between Linden St. Brewery and our Oakland tasting. He is another person who has and continues to invest in Oakland, we’ve known him of years.
Is your winery/tasting room dog friendly?
Yes, dogs on a leash are welcomed.
What are some of the reasons a wine lover should pick Campovida to visit?
For the full experience of education: from the earth to the grape to the grower to the maker to the final product of the wine, they’re going to get the full understanding, and not in a daunting scientific way, but in a story, a great true story.
Anything quirky/funny about your winery or philosophy?
Whether it’s Hopland or Oakland, when we decided to move from San Francisco to Oakland, people were like, “Really, Oakland?” You can’t turn your head and not invest in it as if it’s going to go away, we have to invest and bring it to life. The same thing is true for Hopland, a forgotten town, once on the brink of bankruptcy .I t only takes a few people to believe and invest and you can turn things around. That is part of the story for us, we’re doers in the way that we have believe in that we can do more than we think we can. We’re making wine, but the bigger thing for us is the community, we’re trying to bring back Hopland, we’re selling in Oakland, in a building we bought because we believe in Oakland. People relate to stories, we believe in the stories of Hopland and Oakland,
What is your philosophy on enclosure; screw cap vs. cork?
We are try to be sustainable, literally, with every detail as possible, there’s all this controversy with screw cap versus cork, cork is more sustainable, you have it and it comes back. We’re cork, but we are no tin, that’s not sustainable, if you’re really using true tin, from Spain, it’s got a high degree of carbon foot print. We care, we cork.
Any final thoughts?
I’d like to think that what we’re up to is making the very 1 percent wine if you will, but the idea is to reach 99 percent of the people with education.
Vintner Profiles is a post series that puts a spotlight one of our East Bay Vintner Alliance winemaker members.
Chouinard Winery is located in Palomares Canyon between Castro Valley and the Livermore wine country on the historic Cook Ranch. Since 1983 they have been welcoming guests into their Winemaking family. Visitors can bring a picnic and taste wine under 100 year old oak trees, listen to live music, or celebrate a special event, wedding or party in the vineyard. Chouinard’s winery is an extension of their winemaking passion. From Malbec, Chardonnay, Barbera Rose, Cabernet, Chenin Blanc, Port, they craft award-winning wines of all types.
The Palomares Canyon area was originally a summer hunting ground for the Ohlone Indians (Miwoks) and later became the Cook Ranch. Palomares Canyon supported both cattle and sheep grazing. In the 1940s and 50s, Royal Ann cherries were grown commercially in the canyon.
George, Caroline, and their two sons, Damian and Rick, found the property in 1977, and fell in love with the beauty of the countryside–rolling hills, streams, and wooded slopes–all within a few miles of major San Francisco Bay cities.
George, Caroline, and their sons planted the first grapes 28 years ago with an old garden tractor. Waxed milk cartons kept the rabbits from nibbling the young vines. The canyon floor where the original grapes were planted was previously used for loading pens for the cattle and sheep, making the native loam soil even richer. Sauvignon Blanc vines flourished in the canyon, but were later grafted over to Chardonnay because of the region’s tendency to experience late spring frost.
At 1,000 feet above sea level, the vineyards of Palomares Canyon are cooler than much of the Central Coast region. The new San Francisco Bay appellation defines the region’s cool, sometimes foggy nights and warm sunny days.
Around 1983, George Chouinard started what the family called his Egyptian project–cutting terraces into the steep hillside in the canyon to plant Cabernet Sauvignon. The leaner, well-drained soils, good air circulation, and sun exposure on the 35% slopes provided an ideal, if somewhat inconvenient location for the distinctive Cabs he wanted to produce.
A “retired” architect, George likes challenging projects. The winery itself was to be housed in an old barn build of hand-cut redwood. George started remodeling the 85-year-old structure, with its dirt floor and dilapidated roof. The results are delightfully eclectic and a welcome change from the commercial atmosphere of many wineries.
Damian Chouinard became the Winemaker for the family operation in 1985. A graduate in Enology and Viticulture from California State University in Fresno, he apprenticed briefly in the Champagne District in France before putting his personal stamp on the wines produced by the Chouinard family. Awards for his wines line the walls of the tasting room.
Damian’s artistic talent shows up in other locations as well. The winery logo design and the native rock walls framing the vineyards are a few examples. He also has an unusual talent–he “knaps” arrowheads. During the springtime, he provides demonstrations for winery visitors, showing them how the Indians who originally lived in this beautiful canyon made arrowheads for deer hunting.
For this Q & A we spoke to Caroline Chouinard.
Who is the winemaker at Chouinard?
My eldest son Damian. We had lived in Europe, in France. We were interested in wine beforehand, and became more so while we were there. We liked the concept of a family winery – we could make and produce it, and see it from beginning to end, and have family involvement. We started small upon returning to the U.S. – we were both still working. Damien began his studies in Forestry, then decided switch majors to Enology at Fresno State.
How long did it take before your wine got the attention of wine drinkers, restaurants, and others? What kept you going?
It didn’t take very long (to get attention). In our second year we received two silver medals from Orange County. That was a definite boost! Damien is very talented. We received Best in Show in the state (SF international) – and that was before they split white and reds in the competition. He always entered his wines in competitions, almost from the start – he wanted to know how his wines stacked up to others.
He has worked on his wines for 30 years, he started making wines right out of school. By not training under any body his wines really are unusual, unique and distinctive to him.
What was the first wine you made?
Cabernet vintage (own) 1985. Gewürztraminer. Won best in show for that gewürztraminer ‘Best of the Bay ‘competition last year, 2013.
Is there something in particular about the Bay area and to why you chose it?
We are in love with this area. The mountains the hills. We are between three major cities. My husband has always worked in urban settings. We like having the urban setting but also nature nearby. This is where we worked and live and it was natural that we would start the winery here.
From where do you source your fruit?
Like a lot of urban wineries we source from other vineyards. We do source some of our own in Livermore, but also Monterey, Lodi and Paso Robles and sometimes Mendocino as well.
What makes Chouinard Vineyard and Winery different and special?
Our emphasis on the fruit characteristics in the wine. Damien doesn’t usually do a lot of aging. But that allows those who don’t have the space to maintain/keep wines to not worry too much about it – makes wines very drinkable. His preference is to make reds, chardonnay and Viognier.
Can people visit your winery?
Yes, and there is a large picnic area and we encourage people to bring a picnic, and we often have music in the tasting room.
What should we know about Chouinard Vineyard and Winery that you haven’t been asked?
Most urban wines don’t produced grapes, most visitors aren’t used to that. It makes them question if the wine is of good quality. Most urban winemakers focus on the wine making, and not grape production – which are two separate skills. It allows the winemaker to focus on the wine production, and that’s how you get unique passion put in the wine and dedicated winemakers.
To learn more, visit Chouinard Vineyard and Winery online at www.Chouinard.com, or visit their tasting room at 33853 Palomares Road Castro Valley, CA. Telephone: 510-582-9900
Image courtesy of Chouinard Vineyard and Winery
Last night local ABC 7 News aired a highly anticipated segment from Jonathan Bloom about the East Bay undergoing a craft alcohol renaissance with new wineries, breweries and distilleries opening.
In discussing the local urban winery industry they featured East Bay Vintner Alliance members Steve and Marilee Schaffer of Urban Legend in Oakland.
Watch the segment here:
Video source: KGO/ABC 7 News
We are beyond excited to see this come to fruition after being in the works for some time. We were approached by the great editors at Diablo magazine after the ‘buzz’ (their words!) of Urban Wine Xperience, as they wanted to do a feature on urban winemakers and the East Bay’s Urban Wine Country. Diablo, as you may know, is a regional entertainment and lifestyle magazine written for those who live in and love the East Bay. We were truly honored to be asked to discuss our craft, our experiences and wines with them. The article mentions many of our members (it even profiles a few), reviews several EBVA wines in their tasting panel, tells you how you can make a day of wine tasting in the East Bay, as well as points readers to excellent local restaurants who are supportive of local urban wines. The result is a beautiful feature, mentioned on the cover, in what is their annual food-focused issue.
Check out the articles here, or better yet pick up a copy that is on newsstands now.
Jeff Cohn Cellars is really excited to announce that their new tasting room – located at 160 Franklin St in Oakland – will be opening on mid-late November. Until then, tastings will be held by appointment only. Please call the winery at 510.465.5900 with any questions.
Alternatively, if you find yourself in Napa, CA please stop by The Vintner’s Collective .
Oakland Tasting Room Details
Hours: By appointment only
Location: 55 4th St, Oakland, CA
Tasting Fee: $15, waived for Wine Club members
Reservations: Please call the winery and ask for Justin
Napa Tasting Room
Tasting room through Vintner’s Collective:
Hours: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
1245 Main Street, Napa, CA
After many years in Alameda, R&B will be moving to a new home in the East Bay – to the Port of Richmond in the quaint town of Point Richmond. The building, called “The Rigger’s Loft”, is part of the historic Kaiser Shipyard and is directly next to the water with a sweeping 270° of the bay – one of the most stunning bay views in the whole East Bay. There are windows everywhere in their new winery, letting in lots of natural light.
Their plans for the tasting room will take full advantage of these remarkable views, with a 70 foot tasting bar along the windows looking out across the bay, with additional seating outside on a tasting deck, and with lots of standing room around the bar area. The water is literally a stone’s throw away; the view is breathtaking. The winery will be a perfect place to host events too.
The Port of Richmond is up and over the hill from the town of Point Richmond – a vibrant town within the greater City of Richmond, on the bay side of the freeway. Point Richmond is an affluent community and has several nice galleries and restaurants, including the famed Hotel Mac Restaurant. The 500-mile long Bay Trail twists through the town, along the waterfront, and right by our new winery! The winery will be easy to get to – just 5 minutes and a straight shot off I-580.
They are projecting to be up and running sometime mid-winter 2015.