One of the greatest challenges of the wine shop life? Finding Californian wines that can actually compete with their Old World counterparts on delight-per-dollar.
Wanna meet our Old World Slayer of the year? Tomorrow night, please meet William Allen of Two Shepherds! A micro-producer on the rise (Jon Bonné championed him as one of the faces of the "New Californian Wine," and the SF Chronicle declared him "one of the must-visit wineries of 2018"), he makes infinitesimally small lots of some of our favorite Cali whites and reds both. These are wines we'd happily take to a Rhone-off in France... and they come in at prices that compete with their harder-to-pronounce counterparts!
Come taste William's Vermentino! His Pastoral Blanc blend! Picpoul! Trousseau Gris! Grenache! And two wildly different styles of Carignan (including his "carbonic" Carignan, an eminently chillable red that has become our summer 2019 recipe for brain delight.)
The Wines of Two Shepherds.
With William Allen!
Friday, 7/12. 5:30 PM.
7 Wines for $7!
Don't wear white! Because Vine Street's welcoming in Spanish importer Olé for an all-night celebration of Spanish juice. (Well, not quite a Spaniard's idea of "all night" - we're not pouring till 4 am). A Mencia rosé and Godello from Spain's northwest. A head-to-head comparison of Tempranillos from different regions. And we'll finish with Vermut: Spain's answer to that tricky '-th' sound that comes at the end of 'Vermouth'!
8 wines for $8!
Our man Aaron Bryan's back! A classically trained economist, Aaron got wine fever while at UCSB, and refused to give it up; what started as a garage project in SF's Mission District turned into one of CA's newest coolest small producers. In 2013 he made the leap to full time and has been producing wines (Conduit and Divergent Vine) and ciders (Tag + Jug) ever since.
Aaron works naturally, and his style is clean, balanced, food-friendly, and built to last. He only works with family-owned vineyards that follow conscious, sustainable farming practices. We're pouring hisMarsanne/Rousanne blend, his Viognier, his Russian River Zin, his Dry Creek Syrah, and his deliciously dry wine/cider blend!
Conduit Comes to Solano.
THursday 7/11 5:30 PM. ($10.)
This Friday, July 5th? We're celebrating an outlaw grape! That's right... 624 years ago this month, the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe the Bold, woke up in a bad mood and blamed it on a grape. He outlawed the cultivation of one of our most favorite things, calling it the "disloyal Gaamez," due in part to the variety's occupation of land that could be used for the more "elegant" Pinot Noir.
Sixty years later? Another Duke named Philippe -- Philippe the [so-called] Good -- issued yet another anti-Gamay edict (did they have anything else to do? Remind you of anyone?), stating prissily, "The Dukes of Burgundy are known as the lords of the best wines in Christendom. We will maintain our reputation."
Tell all the Philippes you know that we don't give a damn about our reputation! We think Gamay's just about the perfect summer red: light-bodied, fruity, floral and sometimes earthy - and (if so inspired) perfectly chill-able!
Join us while we celebrate the grape with one of our favorite vinous outlaws, Cory Gowan! Sparkling pet nat! Rose! And more Gamays than a Duke would know how to ban!
Vine Street. Friday. 5:30 PM.
5 Wines... for $5!
This Saturday at Elmwood, from 8 - 9:30 PM: come join us for our first ever comedy showcase! Six of our fave up-and-coming local comics are coming in for what will surely be an anarchic night of wine and comedy.
Roman Leo! Tito Gonzalez! Marcus Howard! Alissa Lindquist! Ben Kolina! And Dan Lewis (of the locally infamous"Stoner Chef's Table" skit)! These are comedians who have performed at places like the SF Punch Line, The Setup, and/or Cobb's... but why not catch them at a place that serves better wine?
Only at Elmwood!
This Saturday. 8 PM.
(Wines by the Glass!)
The Wild Wild East: It's What's For Dinner.
Friday at 7 PM? A special thing happens.
We're hosting Eric Danch, the famed importer behind Blue Danube, as he pours through some of the greatest vinous wonders of Mitteleuropa. And as fun as our usual in-store splash-n'-slosh routine usually is? Some wines are too special not to pay attention to: so we've partnered with our friends down the street at Baker & Commons to create a night of perfect pairings.
Together? We've created a 5-course meal, served with 8 wines, for only $90 (service included) + tax! It's a deal as astonishing as the wines that come with it!
We'll be drinking wines from Slovenia, Serbia, Austria and Hungary, all paired with Chef Miles' take on Central European classics. These will be special dishes, served with extraordinary wines.
First course: Sparkling Vitovska from Slovenia served w/ seasonal pickles and cured sausages;
Second course: two Hungarian wonders (including a hyper-rare Szamorodni!) served w/ chilled beet purée & dill cream;
Third course: organic Furmint from the Serbian/Croatian border, and an exquisite Hungarian Kadarka, served with a Halibut Paprikash;
Fourth course: a naturally made Austrian red blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Zweigelt, and St. Laurent, and a skin-contact Hárslevelűserved with beef cheeks and Hungarian dumplings;
Fifth course: 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszú (the wine Louis XIV called "the king of wines, and the wine of kings") served with a Hungarian Bing Cherry cake, topped with kirsch-laced whipped cream!
This will be a special night. As entertaining a raconteur as any you'll meet this year, Eric's also as passionate a vinous ambassador as any we know. There won't be a better meal, or a better value to be had in the East Bay this weekend!
The Wild Wild East Dinner.
At Baker & Commons.
(2900 College Ave.)
7 PM, Friday, June 28.
SPACES LIMITED; RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.
Please reply to email@example.com with your telephone number and number of people in your party!
This Friday at Vine Street? We're thrilled to host Birichino winemaker John Locke!
Established in Santa Cruz in 2008, Birichino (biri-kino: Italian for "naughty & mischievous") sources from some of the greatest old-vine vineyards in California... yet manages to keep their wines freakishly affordable. Their grapes come from carefully farmed, family-owned, own-rooted 19th and early 20th century vineyards... and a few from the late disco era.
Join us this Friday for the naughty fun! The beautifully aromatic yet completely dry Malvasia Bianca; the cloudy with a chance of amazeballs Malvasia Pet Nat; their Vin Gris made with old-vine Mourvedre and Cinsault from the historic Bechthold Vineyard, Grenache from the equally ancient Besson Vineyard; Their Saint Georges Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, both sourced from a vineyards planted 1800' up in the Chalone AVA... and more!
Come taste the lineup, and meet John Locke: every bit as philosophical as his namesake... only with better wine!
Only at Vine Street.
5:30 PM, Friday, June 28.
$7 Wines... for $7!
Militarily? A nightmare. Vinously? A dream you've always dreamed of dreaming. We got Skurnik Imports, one of our favorite importers of Austrian and Hungarian wines, to offer us some special deals on some of our favorite wines for an epic event... and we're offering them up to you for one night only! Stay tuned tomorrow for details, but trust us when we say that we'll be opening some symphonic Teutonic tonics, at never-before-seen prices. A night not to miss!
The Teutonic Chronic.
Friday 6/21 at 6 PM. Only at Elmwood!
Julie Tesar in the House! (7+ Wines!)
"The wines of La Clarine are defiant and different, and are helping torewrite the story of the Sierras."
- Jon Bonné, SF Chronicle
"La Clarine makes wines that are alive in the glass. I love their minimalist approach in the vineyard and the cellar, and I've loved every single one of their wines."
-Eric Asimov, New York Times
"Is someone else doing anything as insanely stupid as we are?"
-Hank Beckmeyer of La Clarine
Tonight at Elmwood! We're pouring the utterly ineffable & mostly implausible wines of everyone's favorite ex-punk rock bassist turned natural winemaker, Hank Beckmeyer of La Clarine.
The electrifying Petit Manseng (one of Dan's favorite Californian whites) and his Spain-assaulting Albariño. His "Piedi Grandi"(Nebbiolo/Mourvedre), his "Funky Drummer" (Syrah/Grenache/Counoise) and his famed "Sumu Kaw" Syrah, possibly the highest-elevation Syrah in all the vinous world!
Some of these wines are hard to get. All of them are amazing expressions of one of the best (and most undersung) pieces of Californian terroir.
The Wines of La Clarine.
With Chris Scanlan in the House!
Tonight at 6 PM.
Only at Elmwood. Only $5.
If Saumur is the beating heart of Loire wine production,Brezé, the hallowed Saumur hill chock-full of chalky tuffeau, would be its sino-atrial node. And if an electron microscope suddenly revealed a little man operating the pacemaker's control booth (work with my metaphor here)? That man would be Romain Guiberteau, a new Loire legend in the making, having trained with greats like Clos Rougeard's Nady Foucault.
This Thursday at Solano? We're tasting 5-6 wines from Guiberteau and some of his neighbors. If you've ever wanted to understand the ineffable mysteries of Loire-raised Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc? This is your night.
The Saumur Show.
Thursday at Solano! 5:30 PM. $20
Cerified Saumur Freak Syler Silva in the House!
Along the shimmering southern shores of Italy's Lake Garda? There's a wine region few people know about: Lugana. It's thought by some to make some of Italy's finest white wines, period... and it's now in danger of being wiped off the map by a high-speed rail project. Tuesday night? Come taste it while it's still around to be tasted!
We have the honor of hosting one of the region's undisputed greats,Alessandro Cutolo of Marangona. A master of Turbiano, the local variation of Verdicchio (the very same grape Ian d'Agata called "arguably Italy's greatest native white grape variety"), the greatest Luganas (like Marangona's) are bright and lively beasts, as great for summer lake-lounging as they are for serious food pairing.
Ale, as Cutolo is called, is a gregarious gem of a human being; he alone would be worth diverting a train for! Tomorrow at Elmwood, he'll be pouring at least four of his wines: his classic Lugana, plus older-vine and cement-reared cuvées, and his magnificiently versatile Chiaretto(the rosé we give people who think they don't like rosé).
The Wines of Marangona.
With Alessandro Cutolo in the House!
Tuesday 6/18 at 6:00 PM.
Only at Elmwood. Only $5.
Ever wanted to be the first one on your block? This Friday we're tasting the micro-micro-micro production wines of Charlie Miller, the world-traveling vinous wunderkind who served as vinous henchman toboth famed CA Pinot producer A.P. Vin and our beloved Michael Cruse.
Recently named head of La Honda's winemaking program down on the Peninsula, Charlie also makes an infinitesimally small amount of wine under his Dewey's label. This Friday? We're stoked not just to have him join us, but to peel off a few cases of the less than 200 that exist!
Charlie's pouring some of the only Californian Vermentino known to exist; Carignan from the famed Poor Ranch vineyard (known to fans of Vinca Minor, Martha Stoumen, and La Onda) and his sexy-mf "Kick Rocks" Bordeaux Blend from Mendocino's Alder Springs Vineyard.
These wines are straight-up dope, and in 2029, you'll be that lady at the party who's all like, "Actually I tasted them, like, ten years ago I think? Let's see, I know it was before impeachment...."
Do the Dewey's!
Friday at Elmwood. 6 PM.
Charlie Miller in the House!
This Thursday at Vine? It's a Friuli vs. Campania face-off! Antonio from Zuani will pour alongside Rosanna from Campania's I Favati! We'll be pouring so many different Italian wines that Italy might have to switch to beer for a day!
Italy: North v. South!
Thursday at Vine. 5:30 PM.
Two Winemakers in the House!
One of VB/SC's longest-standing heroes? Richard Alfaro. The former bakery owner, sometime mountain man, quasi-hippie, and all-around wonderful guy Richard Alfaro has made more than a few of our favorite California wines. He farms his estate in cool-climate Corralitos (Santa Cruz Mtns.) as naturally as possible (he’s been certified organic for years, and uses some biodynamic practices), and the wine gets better year after year.
Partly it's because his son Ryan is co-helming the ship... and he's going to be in the shop to pour through a stellar lineup of his single-vineyard whites and reds!
The Wines of Alfaro.
Thursday at Solano.
Ryan Alfaro in the House!
6+ Wines! 5:30 - 7:30 PM.
This Thursday, May 30th, at Vintage Berkeley Elmwood, we welcome back one of our old faves -- Yamakiri's Lisa Bauer -- for her Pet Nat release party. A biodynamic farmer and a natural wine- and cidermaker, she'll be debuting the release of her two "pet nat" sparklers and pouring a host of her other wines (Albarino, Chardonnay, Pinot, Syrah, and more). What's more? We'll *also* get to taste a wide range of her wildly successful cider "experiments," as she makes organic ciders in every version you can imagine (dry-hopped) and some you can't (with Pinot Noir pomace). Join us as we welcome back an old friend and her new wines.
6 - 7:45 PM. Somewhere between 7-10 tastes. Somewhere between $7-10!
"Braida — Giacomo Bologna’s winery — is best known for the Barbera thatturned the Italian wine industry inside-out when it debuted in 1982."
- Kevin Day
"Braida is iconic... it was the one that launched humble Barbera into the realms of the super-premium in the early 1980's."
At Elmwood, we host Braida: a legend of Piedmontese winemaking. Famed for the Barbera that wasn't afraid of its bigger brother Nebbiolo (and got scores to match), a wine that many say "eventually set the standard for modern Barbera," we actually loveBraida for their whole range of Piedmontese delights.
Saturday we're pouring two of their most famed Barberas, but also their Nascetta (a grape you need to know about) and their post-prandial astonishments, their Moscato and Brachetto.
We're thrilled to host a legend, and hope you'll stop in!
This Thursday at Solano Cellars we'll revisit one of our favorite importers. Vom Boden's specialty is sourcing "human-scale" (aka tiny) German growers for our delight and enjoyment state-side.
All the wines we'll taste occupy a sort of periphery, whether geographically, stylistically, or both -- and they all use methods that respect their vineyards (yes, most are working or certified organic and biodynamic). Highlights include Pinot Noir from the producer who re-legalized red wines in the Mosel after Nazi rule(!) And more:
Hild Elbling Sekt
2017 Lauer 'Senior' Riesling
2018 Seehof Rose of Pinot Noir
2016 Shelter Lovely Lilly Pinot Noir
2016 Stein 'Redvolution' Spatburgunder
Friday Night Rhône-dez-vous with the Wines of Chateaux Saint Cosme!
The Château de Saint Cosme estate lies in the heart of Gigondas where 15 hectares of vineyard grow in the shade of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain. The property has been in the hands of the Barruol family since 1570. Louis Barruol took over from his father in 1992 making a dramatic shift to quality and converting to biodynamics in 2010.
Only at Vine Street
5:30pm - 7:30pm
Five Wines for $5!
You think you know Soave? You don't know Soave.
It's quite possibly the most famous white wine in Italy, and not just because a) Dante named it (true-ish!) and/or b) that it's fun to walk into a wine store and order it like this. (Please don't.) While there's an entry-level version of Soave that's pleasing and simple and quenching in the sunshine, that's not the half of it. Because there's a whole 'nuther Soave: wines that are age-worthy, & exquisite, rivaling the best of Burgundy for richness, texture, and complexity.
The producer that's considered one of the benchmarks, if not thebenchmark? Prà. Graziano Prà owns 37 hectares of vines in Veneto’s two most famous winemaking areas, Soave Classico and Valpolicella, and is justly reputed as one of Italy's greatest winemakers. This Thursday? We're thrilled to announce that Prà's Diego Corradiis in the house!
We'll taste Prà's four different Soaves, starting from his entry-levelSoave Classico Otto up to the oak-aged, ultraripe Colle Sant’Antonio. All are organically farmed on classic, very black, volcanic soils, which impart an underlying power and minerality to the wines. But it's not all about the power! As Ian D’Agata writes, “Prà is especially adept at ensuring the wines also showcase a remarkable degree of finesse.”
While Prà may be best known for his whites, it's possible his reds may be an even bigger revelation! His high-elevation vineyards have a high percentage of active limestone; while most wines from this region are about power, ripeness and brawn (especially Amarone) Prà’s wines are marked by brightness, freshness and a mineral core.
These are terroir-driven, brain-pausing, soul-dilating wines. We'll be tasting the entire set, and every time we do? We feel the same way Italian wine critic Antonio Galloni does: "Perhaps the best thing I can say about this estate is that I always have a hard time selecting the most noteworthy wine in the lineup."
All Praise Pra!
Thursday, 5/9, at Elmwood. 6 PM.
Prà's Diego Corradi in the house!
Multiple Soaves. Valpolicella.
Ripasso. Amarone. Love.
Only at Elmwood. 5/9. 6 PM.
We Want FX.
This section of the email is meant to be accompanied by this song. (We'll wait here while you click and come back.) Oh hey there, back already? Bum stiggedy bum stiggedy bum... FX Barc himself is in the house this Thursday night at Vine!
Having been the winemaking wizard behind one of Chinon's premiere estates (our own Kermit Lynch's famed Charles Joguet!), Monsieur François-Xavier Barc decided to leave in 2010 to create his own project,Complices de Loire. Rather than spend dumb money on his very own castle and estate though? He decided he'd rather work with his network of badass farmer 'complices' (accomplices) - and make amazing wine at affordable prices.
And that's just what he and his merry band of complices have achieved! Join us this Thursday as we host FX Barc. He's pouring SIX of our most beloved (and delicious) values in the shop: FX Barc's Sauvignon Blanc, his Chenin Blanc, his Vouvray, his "Jus de Gamay," his Chinon, and a value-priced Pinot that makes most Sancerre rouges blush in shame.
We Want FX.
Thurs, 5/9. 5:30 PM.
Only at Vine St. Only $6!
The last time you met Rachel Miers , the owner-importer behind Rachel Farah Selections, she'd just begun importing her small production, family-owned, food-friendly Portuguese stunners. A year later (and a few more trips to Portugal)? She's come back with an even bigger suitcase!
This Thursday, she'll pour 5 Portuguese wines brand new to this coast! Perfect for the Bay in May, we'll taste a Champagne method sparkling rosé, 3 zippy and saline whites, and a red so fresh we could throw it on the barbecue.
Thurs, 5/9. 5:30 PM.
Only at Solano.
Five Wines for $10!
Desire lines: also called, variously, cow paths, pirate paths, social trails, kemonomichi (beast trails), chemins de l’âne (donkey paths), and Olifantenpad (elephant trails). These are the paths animals take without regard to the paths that were made for them. Some view them as evidence of animals’ unwillingness to do what they’re told; others (insufferable academics, mostly) see them as a “record of collective disobedience.”
Us? We view them as what happens when the heart leads reason across a patch of earth. Which is why there's no better name for the new winemaking project started by Cody and Emily Rasmussen: Desire Lines.
Cody, assistant winemaker to Bedrock's Morgan Twain-Peterson, may be a quiet guy, but in the very, very short time his wines have been available? They've made a whole lot of noise. The species known as the Mild-Mannered Wine Nerdlinger - you know, the type more prone to talk about which type of tobacco leaf they're sniffing in a wine (is that brightleaf, or Latakia?) than they are to use an errant exclamation point - are exploding out of their cranial nerd-containers. Like here, and here, and here!
This Friday? We're beyond thrilled to introduce you to Cody, and to his wines. Come join us, so you can tell your grandkids you were there when.
The Wines of Desire Lines.
This Friday at Elmwood. 6 PM.
Five measly dollars.
Back by popular demand! Julie Tesar, Solano Cellars alum and current wine genius for Skurnik Wines is putting on a show to help you live your best quasi-summer life: fresh fun & fabulous Italian favorites. We’ll taste five drool-worthy wines for only $10. 5:30-7:30pm this Thursday at Solano Cellars.
Here’s the wine-up:
BiancaVigna Prosecco Superiore • 2017 Sturm Ribolla Gialla • 2018 Spinetta Rose • 2017 Wassererhof St Magdalener • NV Malvira Brachetto Birbet
"Albino Rocca is one of the most interesting estates in Barbaresco right now." -Antonio Galloni, Vinous
"We know." -Us
When Angelo Rocca tragically passed away in 2012 in a small plane accident, Barbaresco lost one of its most distinguished grower-producers. He was at the peak of his powers, and acclaimed for producing some of the most exciting, terroir-driven Nebbiolo wines in the famed region.
What happened next? His three daughters (Daniela, Monica and Paola) picked up where he left off... and many Piedmont-lovers think that not only have the wines not skipped a beat... they may be even better.
We're beyond thrilled to host Daniela Rocca this Sunday at Elmwood. We'll be pouring her affordable, black-cherry-toned Dolcetto. Her world-beating Barbaresco. And the Moscato d'Asti you're going to want to finish every meal in 2019 with. These are outstanding examples of Piedmontese wines... and fairly priced ones to boot!
Come In and Rocca Out.
Daniela Rocca in the House!
This Sunday! 4-6 PM!
Only at Elmwood!