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Jun 23, 2012 11:53 PM

Urban Wineries - south bay

My notes are showing about 15 to 20 urban wineries in the east bay.

My list for the south bay is:
Coaterie Cellars (SJ)
Travieso (Campbell)

... and that's it. I stopped by Coaterie for a tasting this afternoon, and was very impressed. I did not like the bottle price ($25), but the wine is very solid and when combined with the personal touch, fun.

Any further options?

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  1. Not sure where to draw the boundary for urban/rural in the South Bay, but a few off the top of my head (including some Peninsula)---

    Testarossa in Los Gatos
    Rhy, Los Gatos
    Kathryn Kennedy, Saratoga
    Cinnabar, Saratoga
    Savannah-Chanel, Saratoga
    Cooper-Garrod, Saratoga
    Pichetti, Cupertino
    Ridge, Cupertino
    Big Dog Vineyards, Milpitas
    J Lohr, San Jose
    Woodside Vineyards, Menlo Park
    La Honda, Woodside
    Thomas Fogarty, Woodside
    Domenico, San Carlos

    Then further south, many in Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Ah, good question, what's the dividing line.

      "Urban Winemaking" seems to mean "there's a huge warehouse and not even a blade of grass for miles". These are people who contract buy all their grapes, often from the same exact block every year - and are involved with the picking and pruning - but don't own their own vines. They're somewhat exploiting that many wineries do a certain mix and match anyway - why not leave the growing to growers and the winemaking to winemakers?

      The east bay vintner's association - there are all, or mostly, urban wineries

      Today we stopped at Rock Wall in Alameda near St George
      ( Diago moved Rosenblum, even though they have an event space there still
      )which was a HOOT. We got to try at least 6 winemakers who share the space. Highly recommended!

      Here's a link to the street view of Coterie so you get the picture

      I've been to Cooper-Garrod, Pichetti, Ridge, Fogarty, all of them are on hills with fields of grapes. Not urban in the same way

      Testarossa kind of counts
      Rhy - owns their own land & vines
      Kennedy - I think owns their own land & vines
      Cinnabar - bottles in Paso Robles, it's just a tasting room
      Savannah-Chanel - if it's the place I'm thinking of, has their own land / vines
      Big Dog - looks fun, might be a good Wine Walkers destination, but has own vines
      J Lohr - own vines
      Woodside - industrial location ... own vines? Might be "pre urban winemaking"
      La Honda - own vines
      Domenico - maybe!

      1. re: bbulkow

        Rock Wall tasting room now only has their own wines, not all the others.

        I stopped by JC Cellars and Dashe. Nice people, a bit bigger than other operations.
        Right at the end of 4th Street near the East Bay Restaurant Supply.
        Dashe said they had grape delivery the next morning for their season of wine making. If I lived down there, or was in JLC on other business, they are worth a try.

        We liked JC a lot more than Dashe. Dashe is clean and pure varietals, JC is more blended and "produced" - which I like in urban winemaking.

        1. re: bbulkow

          Urban Cellars is nearby, they make some good wines.

          Donkey and Goat's my favorite of the local wineries.

          I don't think wines made in urban wineries have anything in common that would distinguish them from rural wineries.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Donkey and Goat has been on my short list for a while.

            One thing an urban winery throws to the wind is terrior. There's no terroir of jack london square. So, there is often a mania for more blended and constructed wine - a few percent of this, a few percent of that. There's no real point in staying within a particular region for grape buying, or a given varietal - other than love of that grape.

            That having been said, it's hardly a hard or fast rule. Ridge's ATP often gives 4-grape blends. My favorite of JC's wines were highly blended, I think one had 1% of viogner, but JC clearly loves pinot noir, and several we tasted were straight up pinot from one vinyard.

            That's what I meant, although it's hardly exact. Those folks at Rosenblum made huge zins their thing, and crafted more of a Rosenblum Taste (love it or hate it, they had a Taste), which would have been hard to replicate at a single vinyard dealing with its own grapes.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Terroir is about the vineyard, not the winery. Donkey and Goat's wines have more terroir than many California estate-bottled wines. The most blend-crazy winemaker I know is David Cofaro, and most if not all his grapes are estate.

              Adding a small percentage of Viognier to Syrah is traditional in Côte Rôtie.

              1. re: bbulkow

                Forgive me for asking this, but how much do you know about winemaking?

                >>> One thing an urban winery throws to the wind is terrior. <<<

                As Robert said, "terroir" has everything to do with the VINEYARD and nothing to do with the physical location of the WINERY.

                >>> (T)here is often a mania for more blended and constructed wine - a few percent of this, a few percent of that. There's no real point in staying within a particular region for grape buying, or a given varietal - other than love of that grape. <<<

                And WHY do you think there is "a few percent of this, a few percent of that" in some wines? In many cases, it's because the grapes are MIXED out in the vineyard, and a wine produced from that single vineyard wine will have X% of _____, Y% of _____, and even Z% of _________!

                In places like the Santa Cruz Mountains, a 12-acre parcel of vineyard is considered HUGE. Many vineyards are only one or two acres, and some even less. At many large homes/estates in places like Woodside, Portola Valley, and Los Altos Hills, the owners plant some vines -- the grapes to be sold to a winery. Rent is much cheaper in an industrial park, or something similar, than it is to build a winery and infrastructure in the Santa Cruz Mountains (where the cost of land is much more suited to "planting" a house than it is a vineyard; the total acreage planted in the Santa Cruz Mountains today is still less than was planted before Prohibition!). Move into an industrial park, and all the electrical wiring is in place -- maybe even the drains!


                Virtually every winery has its own "house style," its own "winemaker's signature," but I believe you are quite wrong when it comes to the ORIGINAL Rosenblum wines -- prior to its sale to Diageo. Certainly with Kent's "Cuvée" series of Zins, these were "house style" deliberately. But you could aways tell, for example, Rosenblum's "Rockpile" Zin from his Alexander Valley Zin from his . . .

                Since Diageo bought the winery, however, this may have changed. See

            2. re: bbulkow

              Is it worth a stop now without the variety?

            3. re: bbulkow

              Uh, a couple of corrections/comments . . .

              Very few California wineries are 100% self-sufficient in terms of growing 100 percent of their own grapes.

              I would *not* consider Testarosa Winery an urban winery; it's located on the site of the old Novitiate Winery that dates back to 1881. It is, however, one of the Santa Cruz Mountain wineries.

              Rhys Vineyards is the same, and certainly dedicated to making wines from within the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA.

              Kathryn Kennedy has long been an estate winery -- one of the few -- and the boundaries of the AVA were adjusted to make sure that the winery and its vineyard were included in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA.

              Cinnabar Winery is not simply what you think -- " bottles in Paso Robles, it's just a tasting room." The winery is located high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one mile up a dirt road, with no permits to have tastings, let alone visitors, at the winery itself. Thus, they opened a tasting room in Saratoga itself. Keep in mind that the original winery was only designed for 5,000 cases. When Cinnabar hit 15,000 cases annually, they began to shift SOME of their production to Paso Robles. See

              Savannah-Chanel Vineyards is another Santa Cruz Mountains winery -- on the site of the old Congress Springs winery (1976), on the site of an old Prohibition-era distillery, and a 19th century winery. They buy a lot of fruit, as do most wineries.

              Big Dog, Woodside, La Honda, and Domenico are all urban wineries.

              J.Lohr started in San Jose as an urban winery, but moved much of their production down to San Jose.

              1. re: zin1953

                P.S. Here is a link to an article on Rhys in the SJ Merc --

          2. I recently came across Big Basin Vineyards in Saratoga while perusing the K&L Wines website...have not tasted the wines.