Working trips into California for me are usually grueling... when not going to visit the kids... and this one was no exception.
Wednesday evening: fly from Richmond, VA to San Francisco via Philadelphia (in a middle seat for 5+ hours), rent a car, fight traffic forever to get to hotel... which is a dump. Whew.
Next morning: call after call after panic call after "You did what?" call, interspersed by free hotel "breakfast" in front of computer and including bad coffee, followed by an afternoon client meeting. Then more Fun In Traffic to get to the Oakland airport.
BUT WAIT... hidden in downtown Oakland, a bit of a ways from Jack London Square and in a really not too nice section of Oakland (assuming there are nice sections of Oakland) are my favorite urban wineries: JC Cellars & Dashe Cellars. Nooooooooo, they do not grow grapes in the city, but they do make very good wine in downtown Oakland. Both Jeff Cohn (JC Cellars) and Michael & Anne Dashe (Dashe) shop the area for grapes to create great wines with. Who says you have to make wine right where the grapes are grown?
Both are in the same big warehouse that, when walking in, you find floor to ceiling barrels of wine and all the paraphernalia necessary to make good wine. The tasting "room" is in a corner of the winery just inside the door. Not the most elegant of tasting rooms but the wines are superb, the folks working the tastings great and it is only a very short distance on to the airport.
There is a long bar, JC Cellars on the left, Dashe Cellars on the right. Do a tasting for one (I usually start with JC) and then slide over "next door" for a tasting at the other. Two different winemakers with their own distinct styles... it really is like going to two different wineries.
So, two tastings and some great conversations later, it is off to the airport (after figuring out how to get three bottles in the suitcase), nicely de-compressed, really relaxed and feeling the world actually is a much better place than it was before walking through the doors.
Going to the San Fran/ Oakland area in the near future? Go de-compress at JC Cellars/ Dashe Cellars yourselves... just don't crowd the bar space if I am in town!!!