Let’s imagine for a second that the idea for a wine country scattered along the streets of a tatty port city took place late one night after a few uncorked bottles among friends. However it came to be … bottoms up. Today, ten wineries collectively hook into what’s dubbed Oakland’s Urban Wine Trail, complete with tasting rooms. But that’s so seven years ago. The city is no longer tatty, and wine isn’t the only beverage on the trail.
The genre of booze has expanded at the trail’s gem Two Mile Wines in the Uptown neighborhood. Within a 1940s warehouse where auto glass was once made is now where wines, gins, brandies and ciders are made (and poured to strangers). From making glass to breaking glass. But try not to break anything, okay? Sink into a threadbare floral sofa in the analogous tasting room that embraces pre-electric amusements—a piano, wooden board games… They pair nicely with another unplugged diversion: drinking with friends. Since there’s a lot to try, let’s think of this as an educational road trip rather than as day drinking. Each taste will express a part of California.
Hit the road without moving an inch: On your itinerary, the first stop is Tahoe. Crooked City Ciders may harvest the apples from that famous ski area, but the fruit gets its soul in Oakland. Hella Hip Hopped is a nod to the city’s 1990s’ music scene. It’s up to you to decide whether Can’t Stop Won’t Stop cider is a tribute to Puff Daddy, or a drinking dare. The barely pink dry cider is infused with raspberries.
The nearby Sierra Foothills (beautiful this time of year) are the source for Two Mile Wine’s Carignane, named after the red grape that is the heart of the 2015 vintage. The Delta town of Clarksburg recently upped its production of Chenin Blanc. You can taste the racy white in Two Mile’s 2016 bottle.
Time to climb ABVs and twisty Highway 1, the famous coastal highway along which Oakland Spirits found ginspiration. If you don’t know what it’s like to stand on the wind-whipped bluffs of the Mendocino Coast on a foggy morning, ask for Automatic Sea Gin. The delicate brininess owes a big gesture of gratitude to seaweed that washes ashore near Fort Bragg then is trucked to the copper still in the very Oakland warehouse you’re sitting in. The latest gin from the distillery is Glasshouse Trade Winds. A few sips of the darkly flavored (but definitely clear colored) elixir opens the door to an exotic world when spices were currency. The Assam tea, garam masala, and fresh cilantro distilled in the batches are from East Bay Spice Company in Berkeley.
Now, go on, you should be buzzed enough to believe that you can play the piano.
Photos courtesy Oakland Spirits