Posts Tagged ‘east bay wineries’

It Means Orchard Tender in German

August 2, 2012

Roughly translated, Bumgarner is German for an orchard worker or gardener. It’s also the name of a  Giants pitcher and a not-so-Giant winery in the Sierra foothills.

The family owned Bumgarner Winery in Camino has an interesting lineup of red and white wines, with several on tap in the tasting room plus a delightful hard apple cider.

I found this quaint little winery by accident, thanks to my wife’s urging to stop at a thrift store off Highway 50 while driving home from a visit to Lake Tahoe.

As luck would have it, the winery sits directly behind the Snowline Hospice Thrift Store, where I got a great deal on a pair of $3 blue jeans.before strolling next door to taste some wine.

Tapping into High-Altitude Juice

Wines offered on tap are sold in a re-usable 750-ml  bottle with a resealable top. Bring the bottle back, and they knock $5 off the price of a re-fill.

My favorites included the 2010 Chardonnay and the 2008 Eldorado Tempranilllo. I also liked the apple cider, made from Pink Lady fruit in a delightfully dry style that I found refreshing.

The Chardonnay carries the vein of apples forward on a much lighter and delicate note. This was clean Chardonnay fruit without any heavy oak attributes.

The Tempranillo is made from a Spanish varietal that presents a solid, earthy backbone with leathery overtones against blackberry fruit and  bouquet.

There are some good tannins at work in the Tempranillo alongside significant acids which make this wine a particularly great match for hearty foods involving tomato-based sauces or grilled meats and sausages.

Get Your Grill-O-Rama On in Alameda

If you’re a Zinfandel fan and enjoy grilled foods, head for Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11. I’ll be there to help judge the entries and write about the results.

ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) is sponsoring  the Grill-O-Rama, an amazing cook-off competition pairing Bay Area grilling artists (like John Ledbetter from BocaNova in Jack London Square, chef Tyler Stone, Dawn Wofford from Sonoma Smokehouse, and Sophina Uong from Pican in Oakland) with wines from 32 different California Zinfandel producers.

Bay Area wineries like Rock Wall, R&B Cellars and Dashe Cellars will be pouring their wines alongside a host of other top producers from Lodi, Napa, Sonoma, the Central Coast and Sierra Foothills.

Advance tickets are available online for $50 and $60 at the door.


Labor Day Weekend Wines

September 3, 2011

The days of the drive-in movie are nearly over, but you can still enjoy an outdoor film with a glass of cool wine in hand at one East Bay winery.

Movies in the Vineyard

You won’t have to drive to Napa or Sonoma for a wine country movie experience  at Chouinard Winery in the hills above Castro Valley.

Chouinard Winery

They kick off kick off a Labor Day weekend celebration with a Saturday (Sept. 3) showing of the 1954 horror classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the movie starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20/car. Bring a picnic dinner and try the lineup of Chouinard wines including their award-winning 2007 malbec from Paso Robles ($19).

Movies are shown every Saturday night this month, including a Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon double feature Sept. 10.

Music & Meritage

Every Sunday in September, you can enjoy live music and wine tasting at Hannah Nicole Vineyardsin Brentwood. This Sunday (Sept. 4)  features an acoustic performance by Toree McGee from 1-4 p.m.

Owners Neil and Glenda Cohn originally wanted to grow apples, but followed the wine muse instead. They began making wine as amateurs in 2002 and opened their winery in 2009. The estate covers 80 acres and there are 10 current releases of red and white wines.

Saturday Happy Hour at Berkeley’s Casa Vino

Prices drop by $2 per glass at Casa Vino during the 5-6:30 p.m. happy hour on Saturdays. This wine-centric spot has one of the largest “by the glass” menus in the Bay Area featuring selections from all parts of wine country, foreign and domestic.

Wine Mine Find: $1 Tasting

Every Saturday afternoon, in the Temescal district of Oakland, David Sharp sets out 4-5 interesting wines for a $1 tasting at the Wine Mine, a delightful discount wine shop. That’s right, it’s only a buck to taste the whole flight. This Saturday (Sept. 3), the lineup features an all-rose selection.

Rosenblum Cellars

There will be live music on the deck at Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda this Saturday (Sept. 3) and 20 percent discounts on case sales through Labor Day. Admission is free.

They don’t make wine anymore at Rosenblum’s Alameda facility, but the tasting room is still open and  on a sunny day it’s a fun place to kick back and enjoy a glass of world-famous zinfandel.

Flirting on the Feminine Side

July 30, 2011

It’s easy to lump rose wines together in the “feminine” side of the wine world, but the description is apt when it fits like a little pink sun dress on a hot wine country day.

The start of this little adventure began with a meal of takeout chicken teriyaki from one of my favorite Alameda restaurants — Kamakura.

I called in a “to go” order from my car and had 15 minutes to kill before it was ready, so I wandered into the nearby Du Vin Fine Wines shop to find something to drink with dinner.

I’d normally grab a dry riesling or maybe sauvignon blanc, but when I asked the proprietor, Dan Marshall, for a recommendation his response was unexpected.

He thought a rose might be a good choice and  pointed to a $12.99 bottle of pink wine from the Mediterranean coast.

At first, I was doubtful. But my adventurous side took over and I carried the 2010 Cuvee du Golfe de Saint-Tropez by Les Vignerons de Grimaud home for dinner.

It was flirty, fun and fantastic.

The French wine is a light pink color with a mild floral nose. It’s a dry blend of grenache, cinsault and carignane. The grenache fruit comes though, albeit with a whispery light touch.

It was easy to drink and definitely complemented the Japanese chicken dish that included a side of sautéed carrots and steamed rice.

Something Old

When I pulled out a bottle of Thomas Coyne 2004 Vino Tinto Reserva from my cellar the other day, I wasn’t sure what seven years of age had to done to this blend of Portuguese grapes from Lodi.

When I bought the wine several years ago — at a Coyne open house in Livermore — it was fresh, fruity and lip-smacking good. I stuck the bottle in my cellar and completely forgot about it until a few days ago.

I’d made a vegetarian pizza — tomato sauce covered with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes from my garden and some orange bell peppers — and it cried out for a gulpable red wine. The Vino Tinta Rosa fit the bill.

It tasted as fresh as the first taste I’d had years ago, an unexpected pleasure. It felt like I was rediscovering an old friend and made me want to start looking for a taste of the current vintage ($18, available at the winery).

Urban Wineries Pouring in Oakland

The East Bay Vintners Alliance is hosting its annual Urban Wine Experience on the waterfront in Oakland next weekend.

There will be more than 20 wineries pouring dozens of wines on Saturday (Aug. 6) from 2-5 p.m. at the Jack London Pavilion.  There will be 20 different food vendors, paired one-on-one with the wineries. Order online before Aug. 1 and pay $40/ticket. After that, the tab rises to $60.

Cerruti Makes Alameda-Napa-Oakland Connection

April 1, 2011

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.