Oakland, California, is undergoing yet another renaissance, with growth and revitalization visible throughout the city. The wine industry did not get left behind. There are now ten tasting rooms along what is called the “Oakland Urban Wine Trail.” Our first visit got off to a great start at Cerruti Cellars.
Cerruti Cellars displays its unique personality right from the start. As we approached, across the busy railroad tracks that define Jack London Square, we saw a farm tractor mounted at a jaunty angle and wine barrels and racking equipment creatively repurposed. Before we reached the front door we knew that we were in for something special.
We entered the tasting room to find a bicycle hanging from the ceiling, lighting fixtures made from barrel racks and a room full of happy wine tasters. We were immediately welcomed by wine guide Jose and presented with wine glasses, along a fun wooden bar with corrugated aluminum sides. We were ready for an experience!
As Jose poured a refreshing and zesty 2014 Saugignon Blanc, he told us that Cerruti Cellars was a recent off-shoot of Tudal Winery in St. Helena. This tasting room opened in 2011 and has been pouring for locals and visitors to the Square ever since.
We next tasted their 2012 Flat Bed Red, a 100% Zinfandel wine that presented great fruit up front with a zippy pepper finish. As we sipped, Jose gave us a capsule summary of each of the other nine wineries along the Trail. He knew the owners and specialties of each winery. Clearly, this wine community is very tight-knit.
The Tractor Shed Red was next. This blend was extremely drinkable. Judi called it “gentle all through” because of the nice balance and light tannins. Delicious now, in two years this will be amazing. During this taste, Jose showed us their outdoor event space and their amazing indoor spaces. Quite a venue for a private event!
Our next taste was pulled from a tapped barrel! Jose brought us 2013 Pablo’s Pick, a red blend (80% Tempranillo and 20% Petite Sirah) named in honor of their vineyard manager. We loved it, with aromas of a well-mannered candle and leather, with cherries and cloves on the tongue. Several bottles of this lovely wine came home with us, and one bottle did not see sunrise.
Our final taste was their 2013 Pinot Noir. We enjoyed the blackberry and charcoal notes that danced in a circle on our tongue, leaving behind tannins evocative of a Cabernet.
It was eventually time to move on. We confirmed our navigation to our next tasting room with Jose, paid for our wine and tastings, and set off into the spring sunshine. Our first experience on the Oakland Wine Trail worked out great!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?