I often times refer to Alameda as the island. Because, literally, that’s what it is, in the heart of the same named county. I love Alameda for it’s throwback approach. It’s a mixture of wartime and 2017. The houses and some of the buildings are relics of the great wars. There’s a decommissioned military base with large warehouses that house, among other things, a winery. Welcome to Rock Wall Winery.
Unless you know where you’re going, you can’t just stumble onto the winery. It’s located on the far north-west corner of the island. And the only thing that stands between the winery and the San Francisco Bay is a few hundred feet of concrete. Leaving the winery with unparalleled vistas of the San Francisco skyline, complete with bay bridge (San Francisco’s 2nd most sexiest bridge).
Driving up to the winery, you’re presented with nothing much, miles of concrete in any direction. Yet the feeling of farm-to-table is immediately present with a half dozen raised beds of vegetables growing out front.
Making my way past the urban garden, I entered the tasting room and stood for at least a good 30 seconds, admiring the view outside. Rock Wall’s tasting room allows the wine taster to gaze out on the aforementioned skyline while you’re wine tasting. This is something you can’t get in Sonoma or Napa.
Coming down from the view of the skyline, I focused my attention on what I had really come here for—the wine. My tasting partner is an avid wine taster who enjoys a glass of wine or two, but in no way does she consider herself an expert. So it was up to me to decode and decide what to taste on the impressive list of wines available.
Shauna Rosenblum, winemaker, is no stranger to the wine world. Her father, Kent Rosenblum, of Rosenblum Cellars, is among the pantheon of Zinfandel demigods who changed the ballgame of wine, namely Zinfandel, in America (Kent is up where with Ravenswood Wine). Yet Shauna takes a slightly different approach to her wine.
The tasting sheet is a mixture of familiar varietals, easy to recognize, to gravitate towards, along with many you probably have never heard of. To make things more adventurous and exciting, she’s blended the lesser-known varietals together, making unique and fun blends.
Shauna even pushes the envelope on sparkling wine by using other grape varietals unseen in Champagne, France to make her sparkling—namely Grenache. Which, to quote Jerry Maguire, “You had me at Grenache.” She kept the skins on the sparkling wine, keeping the exquisite deep salmon color in the sparkling.
The list continues from sparkling to whites to reds. A tasting will get you 5 samples. If you’re confused as to what said varietals are, simply ask one of the tasting staff members. They are incredibly knowledgable in what each wine is like and can help you steer in the right direction.
Once you’re done tasting, you can opt for a glass of wine (or a bottle) and head outside to continue admiring that fantastic view. The winery has tables and sofas for you to choose from. Half of the sofas face directly out onto the bay, leaving you completely relaxed. If there was ever a place in Alameda to temporarily escape and focus on a sparkling Grenache, this would be it.
And if you’re hungry while sitting on one of the sofas, taking in the view and drinking said sparkling, they have you covered too. A small restaurant that pretty much only does delivery to the tables, is available right next to the tasting room. A large indoor dome provides a sanctuary in case the fog decides to make an appearance. Otherwise, a simple number is all you need for your food to be delivered to your table or sofa. Just let them know where you are sitting.
Having arrived just before dinner time, yet in time for happy hour (yes, this winery has happy hour), I opted for a burger. I’m not saying I found nirvana, but for a few minutes, consuming a burger while drinking one of my favorite grapes in sparkling form and admiring the views of San Francisco, it came pretty close.