Vintner Profiles is a post series that puts a spotlight on one of our East Bay Vintner Alliance winemaker members.
For this Q & A we spoke with Melinda Doty
Stage Left Cellars’ backstory:
Melinda and her husband Rich Williams collaborate to make wine for Stage Left Cellars. When they first met he was a wine collector and she just tasted the wine. Eventually she drank through his collection and said, “We need to start making wine”. They began commercially in 2004 in Paso Robles. When they began looking for a new space in 2009 they chose the urban setting of Oakland.
Their fruit sources:
They work with 10 different growers to bring in fruit from Santa Maria, Russian River, Napa, Mendocino, Santa Ynez, Paso Robles, Russian River, Napa, Mendocino, Rogue Valley (Oregon) and Del Rio. Melinda says that one of the greatest things about the business is being able to use different vineyards and having a choice.
That first wine:
It was a Spanish-style wine called the day job made in 2004. Following that they are currently focused on Rhone varietals and on single vineyard designate varieties as well as blends: Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Carignane, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne.
There are no shortcuts at Stage Left Cellars:
Their wines aren’t found on every grocery shelf or every wine shop. Visits (by appointment) are encouraged in order to really understanding and enjoy the breath of what they do. They are so passionate and don’t take shortcuts; they sort clusters, de-stem, do tons of berry sorting. They barrel ferment their whites with meticulous temperature control. Each wine is developed to bring out different characteristic and to naturally build complexity.
What is behind the name?
“Stage left is our exit strategy! We believe life is about balance. What’s keeping you from doing what you want? Where are the answers? They think if you keep drinking it’ll come to you.”
What they love about Oakland and the East Bay:
They live in Jack London Square, and feel Oakland is the perfect setting for them and their winemaking. Oakland is a little gritty but super diverse and has so many great restaurants. It is a place to discover little pockets of greatness. Often visitors to the winery will come in from an East Bay wineries bike tours. After growing up in Indiana, Melinda wanted to live in a big city, and together they wanted to raise their daughter in a diverse communal place.
Appointments for tastings:
They open their cellar doors to the public on the 1st Saturday of each month from 11am – 5pm. Upcoming tasting days include:
- March 7th, 2015
- April 4th, 2015
- May 2nd, 2015
- June 6th, 2015
Visits to the tasting room are a chance to taste their latest releases, and maybe even a library wine or two. Saturday tastings are $5 (free to their The List and The Club members). Can’t make it on one of these Saturdays? Just call 510-434-9930 to make a tasting appointment.
Bringing a group (more than 6)? Awesome − we love a party. Please just give us a call so we can be prepared.
Their wine and dine:
Stage Left Cellars wine are also available at a number of East Bay restaurants, including Bocanova and Encuentro in Oakland and Pappo in Alameda.