Most people understandably associate wine tasting in Northern California with the world-famous Napa and Sonoma regions, about 50 miles north of the San Francisco. However, Bay Area natives and visitors now have a more local option with Oakland's Urban Wine Trail. The term "urban winery" might seem like an oxymoron at first, but Oakland's fresh take on wine tasting is worth a second look.
If you're accustomed to the classic Napa Valley experience, trying Oakland wineries for the first time will have you trading rustic barns for re-purposed warehouses and sprawling estates for Jack London Square.
This past weekend, we had a chance to hit the trail when our friend Sam booked a group of us an afternoon of urban wine tasting to celebrate her boyfriend Chris' birthday.
Our first stop on the wine trail was the aptly named Urban Legend. A team of servers took turns pouring different tasters into our glasses, carefully explaining the characteristics of each. Grant and I agreed that our favorite was their petite sirah, the perfect companion to a juicy steak dinner.
Urban Legend details: Book an appointment for a group of six or more and the tasting fee is $10 per person, with a 10 percent discount on wine purchases. Tasting room hours are 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday and noon to six p.m. on Sunday.
Our next stop was just a five-minute walk away, Cerruti Cellars. The spacious and breezy warehouse sits next to the railroad, and the sound of passing train whistles adds a nice touch to Cerruti's modern industrial vibe. Our group settled into a cozy side lounge with over-stuffed leather chairs and ottomans, the perfect setting for a glass of wine with friends. Cerruti also offered chocolate pairings and charcuterie plates.
Cerruti Cellars details: By the way, if you're itching for an afternoon out but your friend or significant other would rather stay home and watch the game, take them to Cerruti, where they'll probably show the game on the TV by the bar. It's a win-win!The tasting room is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Although we've only tried two stops of many along Oakland's Urban Wine Trail so far, we're happy to say that it's definitely worth checking out. We love Napa, but it's hard to beat the accessibility and walkability of Oakland's wine trail. It's within spitting distance of BART, Amtrak, the ferry and a perpetual flock of Uber and Lyft drivers. When you're wine tasting, it's always nice not to need a designated driver. Plus, the trail's location next to Jack London Square means there will be a fleet of food trucks nearby, in case you get peckish in between tastings.
The next time you have a free afternoon in the East Bay, be sure you stop in at an urban winery and have a glass or two. Let this map be your guide.