Oakland's Urban Wine Scene: Part 1
This month we are privileged to introduce guest correspondent and fellow Vino Vagabond, Adrienne Davis. Adrienne hails from sunny SoCal and recently came up North to visit us in Napa, and afterwards, explore the wine scene of...wait for it...OAKLAND! Yes, you heard right, there happens to be quite a happening wine scene in Oakland, California, and in this two-part series Adrienne dishes on her experiences in this non-traditional, urban wine country.
"This summer I had the chance to discover Oakland’s urban winemaking scene. I was intrigued by the thought of a fully functioning winery in the middle of such a big city like Oakland, California. I mean, would their product be any good? And what in the heck prompted them to set-up shop among the freight trains and bustle of the 880 freeway?
Of course, I made a plan to find out and decided to visit three of these wineries: Stage Left Cellars, Dashe Cellars, and JC Cellars.
My first stop was Stage Left Cellars. They are only open to the public the first Saturday of every month and by appointment the rest of the time. When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed some lovely lawn furniture at the tasting room’s entrance. A big comfy couch, some chairs and a table made the space very welcoming, especially considering the warehouses in the surrounding area. The outdoor living theme continued indoors with more comfy furniture on one side of the room, striking art and floor to ceiling glass windows on the other. Of course, a large tasting bar was the focal point.
The winemaker, Melinda Doty, greeted me and right away made me feel special... I was the first taster of the day (yes!!). She gave me her full attention and explained how they chose the name Stage Left: simply put, the wine business was their exit strategy from the daily grind. She went onto explain how the thought of ditching the daily grind for a more fulfilling profession is something that many visitors can relate to and comment on when they visit the tasting room.
Her philosophy definitely struck chord with me since I too am in the midst of discovering what I want to do with my professional life and how I can start doing something I love, like Melinda and her husband.
After a brief moment of bonding, Melinda gave me a quick tour of the warehouse, explained the process of sourcing grapes from the Santa Ynez Valley all the way to Southern Oregon, and then finally, she poured me some vino!
I tasted five wines: one white and four reds. While she said that they prefer to make wines in the Rhône style, my favorite was the delicious (and decidedly non-Rhone) Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The fact that this wine, which was called "The Day Job", turned out to be my favorite was pretty ironic since I’m not a fan of my actual day job. Ha!
We chatted a bit more, and after finishing my tasting, I bid Melinda farewell, bought a bottle of 'The Day Job' and headed out to the next two wineries on my list...
To be continued...