Cerruti Makes Alameda-Napa-Oakland Connection

There’s a brand new East Bay destination for wine tasting at Oakland’s Jack London Square.

Cerruti Cellars is one of six host wineries where members of the East Bay Vintners Alliance will be pouring samples for the public during the group’s annual passport event on Saturday (April 2).

Click here to see our video of Cerruti Cellars.

For more details on this event, including more information about all participating wineries, please click here to read my recent blog.

Urban Zone, Napa Tone

The Cerruti Cellars tasting room, at 100 Webster Street, won’t be officially open until sometime next month, but you can get an early peek at what’s inside during the East Bay Vintners’ event.

Part of the inner walls of the tasting room — which has the look and feel of being in Napa — feature wine barrel staves scavenged from the family winery near Calistoga.

In the tasting room library, Tudal has some older bottles from the family’s winemaking efforts that began with the purchase of their Napa property in 1972.

Two impressive light fixtures hanging over the tasting bar are made from converted metal wine barrel racks. Future plans call for a patio that flanks the railroad tracks that run down the middle of the Embarcadero.

Familiar Faces & Places

John Tudal heads the family business, which makes wine under the Tudal label and the Cerruti Cellars moniker.

He grew up in Alameda, helping his father, Arnold, work their fields on Bay Farm Island.

Today, standing near the railroad tracks in Jack London Square just a block and half from where he used to unload crates of lettuce and other vegetables in the 1960s, Tudal has come full circle.

Go North to Napa

The family makes their wine at their property in Napa, which includes a 10-acre cabernet vineyard.

When the Tudals bought the land, it contained an acre of concord grapes and a walnut orchard.

Tudal says that after one year, his father decided rip out the orchard and table grapes and plant wine grapes. But, what grapes to plant?

He got some pretty good advice from a knowledgeable source — Louis Martini, the patriarch of  the pioneering Martini wine country family.

“Louis asked my dad where his land was located… and he told him to plant cabernet and he’d buy the grapes,” Tudal said. “They shook hands on the deal and that was it.”

By 1978, the vineyards were yielding grapes and there was enough extra for Tudal to make his own wine. The results were promising and the seeds of a winemaking family legacy were planted.

Today’s Tudal

Tudal makes award-winning cabernet from the estate vineyard. They also make some very good wines — in limited quantities — from purchased grapes.

To give more people access to their wines, the family decided to establish a tasting beachhead at historic Jack London Square, which is being developed into a food and wine destination.

Tudal’s Vineyard Series includes cabernet sauvignon from Napa’s Oak Knoll District, chardonnay from the Maldonado Vineyard in Napa, and pinot noir from the Bacigalupi Vineyard in the Russian Region district.

I really liked the pinot and also enjoyed another special wine, Tudal’s 50-50 blend.

It’s made from equal amounts of the Napa estate cabernet and cabernet sourced from Alexander Valley in Sonoma. Elegant and approachable, the wine had a nice balance of sweet red fruits and just enough tannin to keep everything in check.

Cerruti Selection

Under the Cerruti Cellars label (named in honor of Tudal’s mother’s family), there’s a very good blend called Tractor Shed Red that’s made from zinfandel, syrah and cabernet franc. Click here for my review in a recent blog.

There’s also another Cerruti wine, called Flatbed Red, made from zinfandel grown mostly in the Sierra foothills and Lodi. It’s a real palate-pleasing, easy-quaffing table wine. It, and most of the Cerruti wines, sell for less than $20.


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