Monthly Archives: June 2014

Berkeley Wine Tasting

If you knew that there are wineries in Berkeley, raise your hand.  OK, that was maybe one of you.


We were invited to meet some friends at the Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley for a small, casual celebration of the friend’s birthday.  In the photo, we’re in the “courtyard” behind the winery.  Actually, the courtyard is just asphalt-paved open space, with a picnic table, a bocce court and empty barrel storage.  Doesn’t sound really exciting, except that this afternoon was just beautiful:  low 70s, blue sky, although as the afternoon wore on little wisps of fog starting streaming in.  And it was a birthday celebration, so we were sipping wine and catching up with old friends.  I can’t tell you much about their wines, other than that we really liked the 2013 Grenache, made from grapes from El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills.


Before meeting our friends, we went to Urbano Cellars, also in Berkeley.  Fred Dick, one of the owners and winemakers, was behind the bar, such as it is.  It turned out that the previous night was a wine club pick up party, and so almost all their wines were open and available for tasting.  So Lori and I took advantage of that, and tasted just about everything.  Urbano gets a lot of their grapes from the Clement Hills area of Lodi, and these were some of the wines we liked best.  But they also get grapes from Sonoma and Solano counties, and we liked those too.  Urbano produces about 1,000 cases per year, ranging from some crisp whites (Sauvignon Blanc-Chenin Blanc blend and straight Chenin Blanc) to some pretty nice reds like Zinfandel, Barbera and Sangiovese.  The 2009 Zinfandel was our favorite, with grapes from the Green Valley in Solano county.  Best of all though was the nice discussion with Fred and the other folks working at or hanging out in the winery.


So if you don’t have the time for the drive to Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz or even Livermore for wine tasting, think about Berkeley.




Food, Wine, Friends

We’ve been getting together regularly with a group of friends for about 4 years now, meeting at someone’s house to share food and wine.  Each couple is responsible for a course, and a bottle of wine to go with that course, with the host couple responsible for the theme for the evening and the main course.

The most recent of these had a theme of comfort food made better with wine in the dish.  For the main course Lori made chicken cacciatore, with a healthy dose of red wine added to the sauce.  This was a dish her mother made when she was growing up.  While the recipe is basically Italian in derivation, I’m not sure that you would find it served with mashed potatoes, as it was in Lori’s house.  But the potatoes work well to soak up the sauce!  We served this with a bottle of 2009 Sanglier Cellars, Kick Ranch Vineyard, Boar’s Camp Cuvee, which is a blend of 65% Syrah, 21% Grenache and 14% Cinsault.  Great together.

Sanglier Cellars

Just to be complete, one couple brought a 2013 Tamber Bey Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blance to go with the starter course, while the other couple brought a 2009 Jericho Canyon Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Cab was supposed to be a wine for dessert, but they decided that they wanted to share this nice bottle with us, and so we had this one also with dinner.