We know of no wine grapes grown in this Oakland California suburb. That does not mean there are no wineries. And where there are wineries, there are parties.
We recently attended one of the two June 2011 bashes in Alameda California. Rosenblum Cellars’ June 4 “Summer of Love Open House Barbeque” was a huge event with hundreds of people in the winery’s big Alameda facility. It had separate stations for each of 23 wines–Zinfandels, Syrahs, and a few additional Rhone varietals—including great selections of single-vineyard and reserve wines. Each station was manned (or womanned??) by the grower or other knowledgeable professional. About five food stations had all types of BBQ meats, ice cream and, at the end, oysters. The event had seminars on rubs and sausage making and, for a half dozen brave souls, a rib-eating contest.
All this eating and drinking was accompanied by, as the Summer of Love” theme would suggest, two bands (one in each room) playing 60’s music. Those who wanted to work off the food and wine danced. Those who didn’t could veg out in 60’s-era beanbag chairs. Advance tickets are $25 for wine club members and $35 for non-members.
Overall, it seemed like a good time was had by all (and certainly by us). All was well managed with reasonable and manageable lines.
But what kind of “appellation” has only one winery? Certainly not Alameda. Less than 1 mile away from Rosenblum is Rock Wall. Based in a capacious Airplane Hanger (originally part of a decommissioned Naval Air Station), Rock Wall was created by consulting winemaker Kent Rosenblum (who founded, grew, and then sold Rosenblum) and his daughter who continues to favor Zinfandels and Rhone varietals, but also offers Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernets.
Rock Wall’s annual Wine Rodeo bash is scheduled for next Saturday—June 11. And which Rosemblum’s party was scheduled from the afternoon (12:00-4:00), Rock Wall prefers evening fetes (4:00-8:00). It too will feature Barbeque, a selection of wines and music. Tickets range from $30 (early bird) to $45 (at the door). Sadly, we will be unable to attend. If you attend the event, let us know what you think.
St. George Spirits
But man (or woman) does not live by wine, food, and partying alone. Alameda also has a distillery. St. Georges is conveniently located three hangars from Rock Wall. It offers tastings of a range of spirits, ranging from a Single Malt whiskey and infused vodkas. Be sure to check out the citrus-based Hangar One Buddha’s Hand, Mandarin Blossom, and Kaffir Lime leaf offerings, although be forewarned of the hot, Chipotle vodka.
The real stars, at least to our palettes, were the liqueurs. Two easy-sipping pear liqueurs and one framboise, which was so sinfully syrupy, with a nice sweet/tart balance, that will find a home on pancakes and, if there is any left, on ice cream.
And don’t forget the Absinthe, the 120-proof indulgence made of anise, fennel, wormwood, and a range of other spices, and served along with instructions for proper drinking.
Although we did not have time on this trip, we will return for a guided tour of the distillery and a refresh of our framboise (raspberry) and pear liquor stash.