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.