Little known but fast emerging on the ultra-hot Oakland food and drinks scene is the Oakland Urban Wine Trail. As the name suggests, these are not tasting rooms surrounded by acres of vineyards because they exist in the confines of Oakland, California.
In this case of tasting rooms popping up among restaurants, hotels and boutiques, the vineyards, or rather the wines produced from these fields of vines, have been brought to the consumer. And these are good wines sourced from some of the finest wine-growing areas on the West Coast.
One of the best ways to dip your toe in the water of the Oakland Wine Trail is to get a guided tour from Savor Oakland. This first rate walking tour around Jack London Square stops at many traditional restaurants (chicken and waffles) as well as the trendy wood-fired pizza place, Forge, and hip Pan-American eatery, Bocanova. And Savor Oakland takes you into the warm and inviting Rosenblum Wines tasting room.
As we approached, it was fun to see a bunch of moms with their toddlers playing on Rosenblum’s outside terrace. Moms, wine in hand, gossiped while keeping an eye on the kids who wandered in the protected terrace. Inside, a wall of wines as well as a highly-trained staff greeted us and we tried through an array of Zinfandels, the varietal that Rosenblum became known for when Kent Rosenblum was sourcing fruit from Sonoma County and making wines in Alameda. I was thrilled to try the Rosenblum, Rockpile Vineyard, from one of the newest AVAs located high above Lake Sonoma.
Rosenblum is also known for their events and music that keep Jack London Square hopping. Also on the Oakland Wine Trail, in the blocks that make up the Jack London Square area, is much-heralded Jeff Cohn Cellars with his award-winning Rhone wines. In the same area, find Cerrutti Cellars, Urban Legend Cellars, Dashe Cellars and Brooklyn West Winery.
A little farther away but worth the drive is the CampoVida urban outlet of their beautiful ranch and events area in Hopland. This CampoVida looks out over the shipping canal and is adjacent to a lively restaurant. We liked playing Connect Four while tasting their excellent wines in the back room.
We had the opportunity to stop by Two Mile Wines in an emerging arts and design area on 25 street and, while the wines are excellent, especially the Dry Creek Syrah, it was exciting to taste the first gins being made in their Oakland Spirits distillery. With as much aroma definition as well-made wines, these Oakland Spirits gins are fragrant as well as tasty. And I don’t usually like gin!
Other wineries on the Oakland Urban Wine include Irish Monkey, Stage Left and Periscope. Stay at the Waterfront Hotel and walk wherever you need to go during the day and relax on your balcony (with a bottle of wine you found on the Trail) while watching the ships go by.