Vintner Profiles is a post series that puts a spotlight on one of our East Bay Vintner Alliance winemaker members.
For this profile we spoke with Shauna Rosenblum, winemaker at Rock Wall Wine Company
Shauna Rosenblum comes from good East Bay winemaking pedigree; she is daughter to Kent Rosenblum who made wine under the eponymous label until 2008, when they sold the label to begin Rock Wall Wines in Alameda. She learned everything she knows about winemaking from her father Kent who is CEO. Kent and Shauna Rosenblum are a father and daughter team committed to limited production winemaking geared to their tastes and sense of fun and adventure.
As winemaking was a family tradition, she grew up thinking everybody made wine.
Rock Wall sources fruit from 63 vineyards form as far north as Lake County and as far south as Santa Lucia Highlands – and even the oldest zinfandel – from 126-year-old vines! – From Duarte Vineyard in Contra Costa county.
The first wine she ever made as when she was in Girl Scouts, and her troop stomped zinfandel grapes in Alameda. Her first wine was a 2006 Mourvedre and her first end-to-end wine was the 2008 Rock Wall. Now Rock Wall Wines boasts 34 wines.
Her favorite wine? “Anything that sparkles!” she says. Though she also really likes Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc. At Rock Wall they really root for the underdog varieties. They put love into everything they make (and maybe a little magic too, check out this previous post about Shauna’s superstitions). They are very committed to creating an educational experience and believe that snobbery should not exist in wine.
With a knock view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco, along with Scolari’s restaurant serving fabulous food to go with all our wines, Rock Wall Wines is very visitor friendly. For those dreaming of a great East Bay winery venue for their wedding or event, it is a must to consider their impressive dome.
Rock Wall even has a dog in residence. Rescued from a woman in East Oakland who found the abandoned pup, when he was brought to them he was emaciated and scarred. Now he is healthy and sweet as pie. He’s a pit and snorts like a pig. As much as they’d love to have a dog-friendly tasting room for visitors, because they’re located adjacent to a bird sanctuary, they cannot.
In addition to being located next to a bird sanctuary, their space was an old airplane hanger.
What is it about the East Bay that has Shauna smitten? “I’ve travelled all over the world and have never found a place as eclectic as the East Bay. We have a unique sense of style, fashion, food, a and music that you can’t find in any other pocket in California.”
When asked about her philosophy shy when it comes to winemaking, it is no surprise that fun plays a factor: “Wine should be fun! I’ve gone to so many tasting events and all I can think is ‘how could a room of 800 wineries be such a snore of a time?!’ My feeling is, if you’re making serious wine you can be fun with it!
Learn more about Rock Wall Wine Company at www.RockWallWines.com.
With it being Friday the 13th, we asked some of our winemakers if they have any superstitions or rituals around their wineries. We were surprised and delighted to hear Shauna Rosenblum’s from Rock Wall Wines in Alameda:
“From the moment the grapes enter the building I begin talking to them. I welcome them to their new home and wish them well on their journey into wine. I thank them for being healthy and promise to take care of them from then on.
When I inoculate with the yeast, I always talk to the “yeasties.” Yeast are living creatures, so I only allow ‘good vibes’ around them. My cellar guys know that while I’m mixing up yeast, they are not to talk to me about anything, unless it’s completely positive. All good moods around the yeasties make happy yeast, which make thriving yeast, which make healthy fermentations.
When I introduce the yeast to the macrobins, I pour them in the shape of a large swirl that starts in the middle and emanates outward. This represents wholeness, tenacity, and consistency which are all important for a healthy fermentation.
Once the wines are finished and they are ready to bottle, at bottling, I go to the top of the tank being bottled and wish each wine a very Happy Birthday, and tell her how much I love her, and how I wish that she makes everyone who drinks her as happy as she makes me. I refer to all wines as female, except Petite Sirah’s which are so massive, I call them my handsome boys.
Yes, I do all of the above to all 63 lots that enter the winery to become wine. I do truly love them.”