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Welcome to Wine country

Edible East Bay

May 21, 2012

Welcome to Wine Country

It’s right here!

 By Tom Riley with photos by Stacy Ventura

Over the past several years, the New York Times and a host of national glossies have chronicled the East Bay’s emergence as a national tourism hot spot. Read More…

Wall Street Journal April 22 2010

Vintners Gravitate Toward Urban Crush

Wineries Crop Up in Oakland and Other Cities as Oenophile Entrepreneurs Spurn Pricey Napa; Trucking In the Grapes


OAKLAND—The brochure for Jeff Cohn’s wines feature pictures of the idyllic vineyards where his grapes come from, complete with glistening fruit, wooden posts and perfectly arranged rock piles.

The wine itself is made in a former Oakland sweatshop overlooking Interstate 880.

Mr. Cohn’s JC Cellars shares these less-than-pastoral confines with another winery, Dashe Cellars. Both moved into the 16,000-square-foot warehouse in Oakland four years ago, and since then have equipped it with giant fermentation tanks, hundreds of oak barrels and a tasting room where visitors can sample wines.

Far from the bucolic vineyards in Napa and Sonoma 50 miles to the north, JC and Dashe are part of a growing scene of East Bay wineries. Drawn by the ability to pursue their dream careers in the wine industry while still living in an urban environment, a growing number of vintners have opened up shop in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville in the last several years. Wineries here range from JC and Dashe, which distribute their wines nationally, to start-ups launched by self-taught amateurs. The East Bay Vintners Alliance now counts 21 wineries, up from 11 in 2006, operating seven tasting rooms.

“The grapes don’t care where they’re made into wine,” says Steve Shaffer, who this month opened a tasting room at his Jack London-district Oakland winery, Urban Legend.

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San Francisco Chronicle Dec 5, 2010

Tasting via transit: East Bay wineries

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Forget the Napa wine train. With 19 East Bay wineries now pouring inside former warehouses and military hangars, I decided to go wine tasting via public transit.

On a recent Friday, a wine lover friend and I grabbed our backpacks and an East Bay Vintners Alliance map ( and hopped on the 24 Muni bus in Noe Valley.

We transferred to the underground at the Castro Station to reach the Ferry Building. At 12:15 we were watching the skyline recede from the top deck of a ferry headed for Alameda.

We disembarked and walked about 50 steps to Rosenblum Cellars, tucked inside a historic railroad building and widely considered the incubator for the new urban wine terroir. Many of the vintners who first helped veterinarian Kent Rosenblum start his winery in 1978 out of a former West Oakland bar called the Dead End are now running urban wineries of their own.

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Sf Chronicle:Winemakers pouring into the East Bay

Winemakers pouring into the East Bay

Robert Selna, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marilee Drawing from barrel

Lacy Atkins / The Chronicle

Instead of buying a vineyard, Marilee Shaffer and her husband got a lease on a West Oakland warehouse.

When Bay Area city dwellers want the quintessential wine-tasting experience, they go north to Napa or Sonoma for good weather and upscale restaurants. Those who want those things and a shorter drive increasingly are heading to Oakland.

No, seriously.

Three tasting rooms are scheduled to open in the city in the next few weeks, adding to its 10 known wineries. Approximately 15 other wineries are just biking distance away in Berkeley, Emeryville and Alameda – making the East Bay the most densely concentrated urban wine region in the nation, experts say.

The city vintners have more than doubled in number in the past few years, as fledgling winemakers wised up to facts about the East Bay that a handful of pioneers have known since the late 1970s: It’s an hour from the best grapes in the United States, space is cheap, infrastructure is solid, and there is an endless supply of people who like wine.

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East Bay Express Best of the East Bay

Best Wine for a Barbecue: Urban Legend Cellars.

Best Wine for a Barbecue:
Urban Legend Cellars.
Chris Duffey

Frequent wine-trail hikers have a new destination: Urban Legend Cellars in West Oakland.

Steve and Marilee Shaffer have spent enough of their lives in offices, and, now in their fifties, are bringing unique grapes to the neighborhood. The 2008 Ironworks ($15), the first in a series of wines that will be named for Oakland neighborhoods, is a blend of the Italian varietals Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, both grown on parcels in Lake County. The wine testifies to its place and vintage with a slight smoky flavor that was literally imparted by a Lake County wildfire in late June 2008. Some aficionados deem this “smoke taint.” Bottom line: Ironworks pairs beautifully with any grilled meat — and even if you’re using a gas grill, you’ll get some smoke. If grilling fish is closer to your game, try their Rosato di Barbera ($16), an Italian varietal rose, with salmon. It’s lush and fruit-forward, but with an acidic backbone that will keep your barbecue cool when the temperature spikes.