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San Francisco Bay Area Wine Tasting Articles

Bay Area Urban Wineries

The Joy of Bay Area Urban Wineries

By Peter Cunningham

Urban Wineries in the Bay Area operate in converted warehouses, disused military installations, or dockside utility buildings. These sites are gritty, the visuals and the feel are engaging. The customer engagement includes San Francisco Bay with all its moods. In the bay area’s silvered sun light, rust-brown and orange are the dominant colors. In the dark of night, the dominant colors are the lights of the urban skylines, the lights of the bridges and the lights of the ferries on the water. During rains, water drips through the ceilings of the adjacent dry-docks. The surfaces decayed, discolored, and pitted by windswept salt-water spray. Disregarded dredges and tugs list in the shallows amongst creosote infused pilings. Shipping lanes traversed by ocean going cargo ships and tankers. These ships are large and cast shadows that darken the setting. Tugboats ferry back and forth, manned by stevedores wearing rain gear and life preservers. Sailboats and powerboats roll in the currents. The visuals are accented by the clatter of colossal ships loaded by leviathan cranes and the thud, clank and grind of container transports as they move. The smells are industrial and mechanical mixed with sea brine. The experience is new to most. The experience is compelling.

An urban Winery’s industrial exterior envelops a tasteful interior with wine bar, good food, a wine tasting space and entertainment. The winemaker’s exposed tanks, barrels, pumps, macros, lifts and bottling lines, all are visible and can be toured. Customers love all this. In addition, several have both indoor and outdoor areas, including bay view patios.

Urban Wineries are “neighborhood wineries.” They are minutes away by car or public transport, and neighbors visit frequently, spontaneously or by plan. A wine bar, with lunch and dinner options and small plates, and optional wine tasting keep the crowds coming back. With this combination, customers enjoy lingering and immersing in the urban winery experience. Meals can be prepared in a kitchen on site, or in food trucks. Self-service food offerings are no problem. Rosenblum Winery added a selection of high quality charcuterie and other light food at their tasting room in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Rock Wall’s site has a kitchen and food trucks to meet the demand of the crowds, others have food trucks only. Groups, families and singles tell me regularly words to the effect, “what could be better than finishing a hectic day with a good meal and some good wine and a great view.” In other words, food and wine connect people to place.

Wine tastings are most appreciated when conducted in an area separate from the wine bar because the tasting curator needs the full attention of the audience. Urban Wineries are full of tales and history Customers revel in stories of management’s taming the industrial site to create the Urban Winery experience. What a great background for information on how the great wines are made.

Entertainment should include headliners and themed parties to attract crowds so people can mingle. Touring entertainers can be brought in to provide variety. Music, readings / poetry slams, art exhibits, comedy nights are all popular. Winery SF and Bluxome Street Winery are worth visiting to see the entertainment in action. An additional attraction is the availability of space to rent in the winery for events they host. People hosting parties say they like to introduce their friends to the winery, and share the experience. Rock Wall, and other venues, I know of enlist volunteers who help with Crush and Bottling. Working on the processes that create the wines they drink gives real satisfaction. At several smaller Urban Wineries, friends and family try their hand at making their own wines, typically about 25 to 50 cases.

These experiences contribute to the enjoyment, and attract and keep a crowd. Urban Wineries have broken the pattern of travel to Napa and Sonoma. Napa Tourism Board reports that 90% of the visitors at the wineries in Napa and Sonoma are Bay Area residents, and visitor numbers are down.

Recently I visited several wineries in Napa. Some are moving their tasting rooms to Napa city center from the countryside. The new tasting rooms are offering meals and entertainment, some offer hotel accommodation. This is in an effort to regain some customers who have adopted Urban Wineries as their destination of choice.

Bay Area Urban Wineries in the Bay Area that should become your go to destination include: Rock Wall Wine Company, R&B Cellars, Rosenblum Cellars, Urban Legend Cellars, Winery SF, Bluxome Street Winery, to name a few.

Peter Cunningham

LOCAL GUIDE

Peter Cunningham is a successful organizer and manager of Urban Winery Operations, Customer Experience Programs for Urban Wineries and Retail Customer experience in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Upcoming Bay Area Urban Winery Events

Nov
22
Fri
Live Music featuring Jackson & the Immortals
Nov 22 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Nov
27
Wed
Rock Wall Wine Co Holiday Hours
Nov 27 @ 11:30 am – 6:00 pm
Rock Wall Wine Co Holiday Hours @ Alameda | CA | United States

Night before Thanksgiving

We are open: 11:30 – 6pm
Scolari’s: 12pm – 5pm

created by © Syndical.com

Nov
28
Thu
Rock Wall Wine Co Holiday Hours: CLOSED
Nov 28 @ 12:00 am – 12:00 am
Rock Wall Wine Co Holiday Hours: CLOSED @ Alameda | CA | United States

We are closed for Thanksgiving today.

created by © Syndical.com

Nov
29
Fri
Live Music featuring Medicine Ball Band
Nov 29 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Dec
4
Wed
Sips and Samples with Chef Mecca Freeman
Dec 4 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dec
7
Sat
Holiday Wine Walk on Treasure Island @ Winemaker Studios
Dec 7 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Holiday Wine Walk on Treasure Island @ Winemaker Studios | San Francisco | CA | US

Winemaker Studios presents:


Holiday Wine Walk on Treasure Island


Saturday and Sunday, December 7 & 2


12:00 pm – 5:00 pm


You have probably been on plenty of wine walks before… but we bet you haven’t been to one on an island!  Winemaker Studios has 4 tasting rooms conveniently located right next door to one another on Treasure island so that you can focus more on your wine and less on the ‘walking’. We will also be teaming up with Toys for Tots to have opportunities for toy and monetary donations. Here’s how you can attend and donate:




  • RSVP (for free!) to let us know you are coming and receive: $5 off each tasting at the 4 tasting rooms – The Winery SF, Vie Winery, Sottomarino (Sat only), and Sol Rouge.




  • Bring an unopened toy to donate: receive an additional $17 in Bottle Bucks* to use towards any wine bottle purchases!




  • PLUS 10% of all wine bottle purchases will be donated directly to Toys for Tots. Purchase your holiday wine early and you will be automatically helping to support local kids and families in need.




Let’s be merry, drink wine, and work together to give back to our community through Toys for Tots this holiday season!


* Bottle Bucks are redeemable discount “dollars” for to-go bottle purchases at the wineries.  Not to be used for on-site beverage purchases.  Pick up your Wine Passport and Bottle Bucks at The Winery SF Tasting Room when you arrive.
Tastings do not include souvenir wine glasses – available for purchase separately. 
FREE parking on-site, and Muni conveniently located one block away.  Uber and Lyft-friendly location (typically under 8-minute wait). Yes, we are dog-friendly!




The Winery SF was created with the vision of bringing the wine country experience to San Francisco. 


As the city’s first full-fledged winery, The Winery SF brings the tasting room, hospitality, and winemaking operations together along San Francisco’s waterfront on Treasure Island.  Dedicated to sustainable, earth-friendly practices, they utilize natural, old-world winemaking methods which bring out the individual characteristics of its Napa and Sonoma vineyards in every glass of its award-winning wines.  


 


Winemaker Studios is a collective group of urban wineries located in a rustic, relaxed setting with waterfront and Bay Bridge skyline views, providing a genuine, winetasting experience. Located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure Island, Winemaker Studios brings together great winemakers to provide a one-of-a-kind urban wine experience for individuals, private events and unique corporate gatherings.


VIE Winery: Vie makes high quality, limited production Rhone varietal and Zinfandel based wines from many of the finest vineyards in California. Our distinctive wines are produced using classic winemaking techniques to reflect the unique characteristics of each vineyard. The results are wines that offer a balance of flavor and structure that make them as enjoyable today as they will with age. Vie comes from the Old French word meaning “to invite” or “to give occasion for”. Or, in French today, it is simply translated “Life”. Make an occasion to enjoy Vie with friends. Enjoy Vie! Enjoy Life!


Sol Rouge: Sol Rouge is a family estate vineyard and winery located in the Red Hills Appellation at elevations over 1800 feet. North of Napa Valley in the foothills of the dormant volcano which formed the North Coast wine country, this land contains rich, red volcanic soil and, from this unique profile, Sol Rouge derived its name – translating to “Red Soil” in French. This 70 acre estate is currently planted with Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Located in the Mayacamas Mountain range, this aggressive sight is all hillside with slopes up to 60% and is said to be the most tightly planted vineyard in the Red Hills, with nearly 6000 vines per hectare in some blocks.


Sottomarino Winery: Sottomarino Winery is an authentic urban winery, tasting room and event venue located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure Island. Translated to “submarine” in Italian, Sottomarino is housed in a submarine-like training vessel with breathtaking views of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco Bay waterfront. Sottomarino is focused on Italian varietals,delivering classic “old-world” style wines that pair well with food. Located just minutes away from San Francisco and Oakland, Sottomarino is both accessible and convenient to residents and visitors in the Bay Area. 






DIRECTIONS


The Winery SF


30 Avenue G


San Francisco, CA 94130


Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4obvBcvJzFU2


 


1. Take the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island exit (LEFT exit from San Francisco and RIGHT from the East Bay).


2. When you come down the hill toward the island, continue straight and then you will make a right on California Avenue (the only way you can go)


3. Go straight on California Avenue about 2/5 of a mile and make a Right into the Second street/driveway (Avenue G) and The Winery SF is the dark grey building about 300ft in front of you on the left hand side.


 


If you are using Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps, please search for “The Winery SF” versus the actual address, as the address sometimes gets interpreted incorrectly and sends you to a different address.

Dec
8
Sun
Holiday Wine Walk on Treasure Island @ Winemaker Studios
Dec 8 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Holiday Wine Walk on Treasure Island @ Winemaker Studios | San Francisco | CA | US

Winemaker Studios presents:


Holiday Wine Walk on Treasure Island


Saturday and Sunday, December 7 & 2


12:00 pm – 5:00 pm


You have probably been on plenty of wine walks before… but we bet you haven’t been to one on an island!  Winemaker Studios has 4 tasting rooms conveniently located right next door to one another on Treasure island so that you can focus more on your wine and less on the ‘walking’. We will also be teaming up with Toys for Tots to have opportunities for toy and monetary donations. Here’s how you can attend and donate:




  • RSVP (for free!) to let us know you are coming and receive: $5 off each tasting at the 4 tasting rooms – The Winery SF, Vie Winery, Sottomarino (Sat only), and Sol Rouge.




  • Bring an unopened toy to donate: receive an additional $17 in Bottle Bucks* to use towards any wine bottle purchases!




  • PLUS 10% of all wine bottle purchases will be donated directly to Toys for Tots. Purchase your holiday wine early and you will be automatically helping to support local kids and families in need.




Let’s be merry, drink wine, and work together to give back to our community through Toys for Tots this holiday season!


* Bottle Bucks are redeemable discount “dollars” for to-go bottle purchases at the wineries.  Not to be used for on-site beverage purchases.  Pick up your Wine Passport and Bottle Bucks at The Winery SF Tasting Room when you arrive.
Tastings do not include souvenir wine glasses – available for purchase separately. 
FREE parking on-site, and Muni conveniently located one block away.  Uber and Lyft-friendly location (typically under 8-minute wait). Yes, we are dog-friendly!




The Winery SF was created with the vision of bringing the wine country experience to San Francisco. 


As the city’s first full-fledged winery, The Winery SF brings the tasting room, hospitality, and winemaking operations together along San Francisco’s waterfront on Treasure Island.  Dedicated to sustainable, earth-friendly practices, they utilize natural, old-world winemaking methods which bring out the individual characteristics of its Napa and Sonoma vineyards in every glass of its award-winning wines.  


 


Winemaker Studios is a collective group of urban wineries located in a rustic, relaxed setting with waterfront and Bay Bridge skyline views, providing a genuine, winetasting experience. Located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure Island, Winemaker Studios brings together great winemakers to provide a one-of-a-kind urban wine experience for individuals, private events and unique corporate gatherings.


VIE Winery: Vie makes high quality, limited production Rhone varietal and Zinfandel based wines from many of the finest vineyards in California. Our distinctive wines are produced using classic winemaking techniques to reflect the unique characteristics of each vineyard. The results are wines that offer a balance of flavor and structure that make them as enjoyable today as they will with age. Vie comes from the Old French word meaning “to invite” or “to give occasion for”. Or, in French today, it is simply translated “Life”. Make an occasion to enjoy Vie with friends. Enjoy Vie! Enjoy Life!


Sol Rouge: Sol Rouge is a family estate vineyard and winery located in the Red Hills Appellation at elevations over 1800 feet. North of Napa Valley in the foothills of the dormant volcano which formed the North Coast wine country, this land contains rich, red volcanic soil and, from this unique profile, Sol Rouge derived its name – translating to “Red Soil” in French. This 70 acre estate is currently planted with Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Located in the Mayacamas Mountain range, this aggressive sight is all hillside with slopes up to 60% and is said to be the most tightly planted vineyard in the Red Hills, with nearly 6000 vines per hectare in some blocks.


Sottomarino Winery: Sottomarino Winery is an authentic urban winery, tasting room and event venue located on San Francisco’s historic Treasure Island. Translated to “submarine” in Italian, Sottomarino is housed in a submarine-like training vessel with breathtaking views of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco Bay waterfront. Sottomarino is focused on Italian varietals,delivering classic “old-world” style wines that pair well with food. Located just minutes away from San Francisco and Oakland, Sottomarino is both accessible and convenient to residents and visitors in the Bay Area. 






DIRECTIONS


The Winery SF


30 Avenue G


San Francisco, CA 94130


Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4obvBcvJzFU2


 


1. Take the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island exit (LEFT exit from San Francisco and RIGHT from the East Bay).


2. When you come down the hill toward the island, continue straight and then you will make a right on California Avenue (the only way you can go)


3. Go straight on California Avenue about 2/5 of a mile and make a Right into the Second street/driveway (Avenue G) and The Winery SF is the dark grey building about 300ft in front of you on the left hand side.


 


If you are using Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps, please search for “The Winery SF” versus the actual address, as the address sometimes gets interpreted incorrectly and sends you to a different address.

Dec
13
Fri
Live Music featuring The Deadlies
Dec 13 @ 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Dec
15
Sun
Sol Rouge Winery: New Release Party! @ Sol Rouge Winery
Dec 15 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Sol Rouge Winery: New Release Party! @ Sol Rouge Winery | San Francisco | CA | US

Join us for Sol Rouge Winery’s New Release Party and taste our newest released wines!

VIE Winery: New Release Party! @ The Winery SF
Dec 15 @ 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
VIE Winery: New Release Party! @ The Winery SF | San Francisco | CA | US

Join us for VIE Winery’s New Release Party and taste our newest released wines!