OK folks, time for a geography lesson. A quick one, I promise.
The San Francisco Bay Area centers around two bodies of water, is made up of four regions, comprised of a total of nine counties. The San Francisco Bay is the southern body of water, and the San Pablo Bay is the northern. The nine counties of the Bay Area are Sonoma, Marin, Napa, and Solano (the North Bay), San Francisco and San Mateo (the Peninsula), Santa Clara (the South Bay), and Contra Costa and Alameda (the East Bay).
We’re focusing on those last two counties.
Full disclosure: I’m from here. Raised in Dublin, San Ramon, and Danville, three suburban bedroom communities along the 680 corridor, and finding myself a resident of Walnut Creek, where 680 and Highway 24 meet, for the last six years or so. My family’s from here, too, having been among the first Irish immigrants to settle the area (and found the city of Dublin).
And, most importantly for our purposes here, they make wine in the East Bay.
The East Bay is entirely contained within the San Francisco Bay AVA, which is itself part of the massive Central Coast AVA. A portion of Alameda County, south of Interstate 580 between Interstate 680 and the Altamont Pass is the Livermore Valley AVA, which I’ve written about pretty extensively here, and is by far the most renowned grapegrowing and winemaking region within the East Bay.
But they’re doing it elsewhere, too.
Viano Vineyards in Martinez, Contra Costa County, makes Zinfandel from 120 year old vines, among many other varieties that just aren’t as common in California, like French Colombard. They also make a Zinfandel port from vines at least 70 years old.
Bloomfield Vineyards in Brentwood, Contra Costa County, doesn’t have ancient vines like Viano, but they do make a Chardonnay/Viognier blend called Devil’s Daughter, from vines in the shadow of majestic Mt. Diablo.
Castro Valley, Alameda County’s Chouinard Vineyards makes, among more traditional wines, an Alicate Bouschet.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Notes From The Cellar, while continuing to be an outlet for my desire—nay, need—to tell you what I think about whatever I drink, is going to take a special notice of East Bay wine and wineries. Why? First, because I love this place, and second, because no one else is paying much attention.
Sure, Concannon and Wente will get some play here and there, as will a few other Livermore Valley wineries—and it’s deserved, and I won’t be ignoring the area—but the Mt. Diablo foothills, the Sunol Valley, and other areas of the East Bay are also producing quality, inexpensive, tasty wine. And you’ll hear about them, right here, in the weeks to come.
Welcome to the East Bay.