Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Urban Wineries SF

When I think about going wine tasting, I think grape vines; idyllic country roads; rolling hills; designated drivers. The locavore in me loves the idea of getting a bottle of wine that was made just a few miles from my house- when I was living in Ithaca, the Finger Lakes Wine Trails were right there. The real surprise would be if I were drinking wine made more than 20 miles away. It was also great to be able to be able to go tasting on a whim. Here the hour+ ride to from SF to California wine country makes that less feasible, especially when you're a permanent pedestrian like me. Of course there are the wineries in the East Bay, including the two that I posted about recently ("Wine Tasting in the East Bay"), but again, not having a car makes it a lot more difficult- I got a ride from friends that time.

Good news! As it turns out, there are actually quite a few wineries in San Francisco! Winery, not vineyard, to head off the next question. (*Point of clarification: a vineyard is where the grapes are grown, while a winery is where the grapes are turned into wine, and while they sometimes go together they don't have to!)
Weekend tastings at Sutton Cellars
There are several wineries right in the thick of SF, which is great because if you take MUNI or BART to your tasting, no DD required! Which is important, because the generous pours that I encountered in my urban tastings so far ensure that inebriation comes swiftly...

Starting in Dogpatch, my favorite neighborhood this week, there's Sutton Cellars on 22nd and Illinois, where you can taste hard cider, several red wines, and vermouth made by Carl Sutton from Sonoma grapes and apples. Tastings are $5 on Friday evenings and weekend afternoons, and then you're welcome to buy a glass and hang out around the tables and wine barrels in the the production space, where a makeshift tasting bar is nestled among rows of aging wine casks, carboys, and barrel pumps. Sutton sometimes hosts pop-up events with local businesses and food trucks as well. [For the sake of journalistic full disclosure, I now work at said tastings!]

Across the street is Dogpatch Wine Works, which also hosts weekend wine tastings, as well as art exhibits and other events. [For the sake of journalistic full disclosure, I haven't had a chance to stop in yet because I'm always working across the street when they're open!] Both Dogpatch Wine Works and Sutton Cellars are right on the K/T light rail and the end of the 22 bus line. Don't take the K/T though if you can help it. Just don't do it.

Take the 108 bus just 3 stops from the Embarcadero and you're on Treasure Island, the landfill slash naval base, right in front of The Winery SF. They get their grapes from Napa (NOT from the landfill...). Not too many standout wines, but all perfectly pleasant. Not the kind of place to really geek out about wine, but a fun thing to do with friends. Some tasty red table wines, but the exceptionally good and bad were both whites- I actually liked the Glitter sparkling wine, despite the name (ugh) and loathed the Sauvignon Blanc.

Glitter! (Ugh I really hate that name)
The Winery has a cool, bright, and spacious tasting room strewn with couches and tables that is suspended over the barn-like production space/barrel room, so you can watch the grapes being pressed while you sit around a barrel and enjoy a glass or bottle.
Yep, my friend and I were definitely the last ones here.
A fun tasting experience and beautiful view of the city. Tastings are $10 for 1 pre-selected flight or $15 for 2.
The view from across the street
More public transit-adjacent wineries in San Francisco: In SOMA, there's Bluxome Street Winery, open for wine tastings Tuesday-Sunday, 12-7pm, plus events like lunch and wine pairings, monthly farmers markets, and food truck pop-ups. This one doubles as a bar and serves appetizers as well. Sonoma winery Wattle Creek has a tasting room in Ghirardelli square, open for tastings daily with $10-$20 flights. You can also taste a bunch of local wines in one place, at the Winery Collective, which is exactly what it sounds like. This tasting room is open 12-9pm every day and features wines from many small SF and California wineries. Flights range from $15-$25.

Coming up: I'm taking Boozequest on the road this weekend to Portland, Oregon, so I will return with brewery tasting notes and reviews!

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