So it was a clear, sunny Sunday in the Bay Area and we had finished all of our weekend tasks. How could we top off a great July day? With a trip to Rock Wall Wine Company!
Make no mistake, Rock Wall produces some amazing wines, but we selectively visit them when the bay air is clear. Their view of San Francisco from Alameda is absolutely without rival! With nothing but old military tarmac between the winery and the bay water, there is nothing to get in the way of a good gawk. It is also our favorite place to bring out-of-town guests when they want a panoramic view of San Francisco!
We drove into their more-than-spacious parking lot to find it nearly full of cars. With some trepidation, we made our way into the tasting room to find… it was not crowded at all! We discovered that the majority of visitors had purchased a bottle of wine, picked up some amazing food at Scolari’s next door, and set up at a table on the tarmac behind the tasting room to soak up the vistas. We easily found a space along the tasting bar and met wine guide Ben, who set us up for our tasting.
We discovered that the tasting room had been remodeled a bit since our last visit. The area which had previously been dedicated to selling Rock Wall merchandise has been transformed into a “buy a flight” bar. Now you can create a custom wine flight which is poured into a series of small carafes. A wooden base makes the entire collection portable, allowing easy relocation to the glorious outdoor space for an unsupervised tasting experience.
Of course, we prefer to be supervised when we taste. Or rather, learn about the wines from someone who’s taken the time to study them. Ben was a great wine guide: a recent graduate with a major in literature, now a substitute teacher, with a newly-discovered passion for wine. He knew a lot about each wine but gave us the freedom to discover things for ourselves before joining in on our discussion of each glass.
We started our tasting with their 2017 Sparkling Brut, a lovely Pinot Blanc that was very aromatic with tiny bubbles that danced lightly across the tongue. At that point we had our choice of five tastes from a menu of more than a dozen wines. We first chose a 2017 Albariño from Yolo County. We loved the “Hawaiian” nose and complex layers of fruit. We next tasted their 2018 Uncle Roget’s Rosé, which blew us away! A Grenache and Counoise blend, we enjoyed the aromas of guava and flavors of star fruit. Several bottles of this wonderful summer sipper led off our “take home” list.
Jumping to the Red Wine side of the menu, we tasted the 2016 Ski King Red, a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat that was named in honor of the late founder, Kent Rosenblum. Kent’s daughter and winemaker Shauna put together her father’s favorite varietals to create this very drinkable blend. Cuddle up by a camp fire and pop open a bottle of Ski King for a great evening. The 2016 Baydeaux gave us delicious cola notes that we decided was dangerous because of its extreme drinkability.
Their 2016 Rock Hound Red (Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel) showed spunky berry notes and a peppery finish. Next up was their 2017 Zinfandel Reserve. The raspberry and strawberry notes coupled with the gentle pepper made this a great introduction to Zinfandel for newcomers. We wrapped up our flight with their 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted from Rigg Vineyard fruit. The nuanced blueberry notes and surprising pepper at the finish made friends all around.
With our combined tastings complete, we tallied up our purchases (well over a case), thanked Ben for a wonderful experience, and headed back out into the sunshine. Another great tasting, thanks for Rock Wall Wine Company!
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?