AROUND THE ISLAND: TRY ALAMEDA'S TOP 10 SUMMER TO-DO LIST
BY SARAH HENRY
Sampling new eateries, stand-up paddleboarding, biking to bay some of many options
Hello summer, we are ready for you! As the days get a little longer, the weather a little warmer and the kids a lot more restless, we want to help kick off your summer with a Top 10 list of things to explore on the Island.
Check out a new business. J Gallerie on Webster offers unique furnishings and art for your one-of-a-kind Alameda home. The Space on Santa Clara Avenue (above American Oak) is a multifunctional art studio, gallery and art school dedicated to art and pop culture. And PEDAL Cycling on Park, Alameda’s only indoor cycling studio, is all about fun, fitness and community. For your sweet tooth, Rocket Fizz on Park is locally and independently owned by an Alameda family — think Willy Wonka in Alameda! And for your wine tooth, Dashe Cellars just relocated to Spirits Alley and brings their award-winning zinfandels, classic reds and renowned chenin blanc (fermented in their “Black Bart” concrete egg) to our island.
INTERVIEW WITH MIKE AND ANNE DASHE
The first wine that you made as husband and wife under the Dashe Cellars name was a 1996 Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley. What made you decide to make this varietal your specialty?
We were amazed at the wide range of types of wines that you could make with zinfandel. We saw that Zinfandel was a world class varietal that you could make in many different styles and we loved the Dry Creek Valley AVA in particular because of the great balance and complexity of the wines. Mike had worked with Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley extensively during his time at Ridge Vineyards and really felt that this area produced the highest quality zinfandel in California.
The interest in Zinfandel seems to be growing. Why do you think that is?
There has been a resurgence of Zinfandel that is made in a less ripe, less extracted manner and more balanced and complex. There especially seems to be a crop of young, new winemakers that seems to have sparked a renewed interest in the varietal. As Winemakers that were part of the original modern Zinfandel movement, we are thrilled to see growing interest in this varietal.
What do you wish other people knew about Zinfandel?
We would like for more wine lovers to see that Zinfandel can really be a world class grape varietal and that it can stand alongside any noble grape varietal in the world. When Zin is made correctly, it can be exceedingly high in quality with layers of flavors, vastly interesting, age worthy, and overall a spectacular varietal that makes elegant wines. Also, Zinfandel in particular is a varietal that pairs well with an enormous variety of foods, from fine dining to backyard BBQs.
Dry Creek Valley AVA is famous for producing award-winning Zinfandels, what do you think makes this area specifically well suited to this varietal?
The terroir of Dry Creek Valley in general is perfectly suited for growing Zinfandel grapes. Specifically, the weather patterns in the valley. Dry Creek Valley gets quite hot during the day and cools down precipitously at night; there is a fog that comes in at night and in early morning that keeps the acidity intact in the grapes. The resulting wines have a great balance between the fruit flavors, the minerality and the crisp acidity.
DRINKING WITH ESTHER
BY ESTHER MOBLEY
Maybe this is the wine writer’s version of Murphy’s law. Ever since publishing my story about the rise of cru Beaujolais-inspired wines in California, I keep encountering bottles that I wish I’d included in the story — perfect embodiments of the light-earthy-grippy-fruity profile. (Granted, it’s a big umbrella.) One such wine is the Dashe Grenache Dry Creek Valley 2016 ($32, 13.1%), which is the color of a translucent cranberry with a beautifully pure core of tart, red fruit and leafy, spicy, floral accents. The Grenache is part of Dashe’s Les Enfants Terribles line of wines, which Mike and Ann Dashe launched in 2007 in response to a request from the Slanted Door for a wine that tasted like cru Beaujolais. I paid a visit to Dashe’s winery in Oakland this week and tasted through many delicious wines, including an 11-year-old version of that Grenache, so can attest: Despite its delicacy, this can age.
DASHE CELLARS IS LEAVING THE JACK LONDON DISTRICT
BY KATHERINE HAMILTON
Alameda Point beckons for Dashe Cellars, which is leaving Oakland behind.
It's Oakland's loss, but Alameda's gain. Dashe Cellars is moving from its current home in the Jack London District and relocating to Spirits Alley in Alameda Point.
The winery, owned by married couple Mike and Anne Dashe, was founded in 1996. The winery settled into its current home in the Jack London District at 55 4th Street in 2004. When the winery first moved in, Mike Dashe said, it was one of the few wineries in the Jack London district. Eventually, other wineries followed suit, and Oakland became something of an urban winery hotspot.
DASHE CELLARS RELOCATED TO A HISTORIC AIRPLANE HANGAR IN ALAMEDA POINT'S SPIRITS ALLEY
Local Oakland winemakers Anne and Michael Dashe will be taking their urban winery, Dashe Cellars, from Jack London Square to 1951 Monarch St, STE 300 on “Spirits Alley” in Alameda. When the space became available in Alameda Point alongside fellow vintners and beverage enthusiasts Rockwall Winery, Hangar One, St. George Spirits, and Faction Brewing—and in the same building as Urban Legend Winery—Anne and Mike couldn’t resist making the move. “When we saw the view of the San Francisco skyline and sailboats sailing in the backyard, we knew that we needed to jump on the space,” said Mike Dashe.
GET TO KNOW GRENACHE
BY RAY ISLE
2016 Dashe Les Enfants Terribles Grenache ($32)
California winemakers Mike and Anne Dashe use native yeasts, minimal sulfur, no fining, and little handling for their Les Enfants Terribles wines. That approach suits Grenache, as this floral, piquant wine shows.
Click Here for our new release, the 2017 Grenache
Love Pinot Noir for its for its silky elegance? Check out Grenache. Syrah for its spicy power? Ditto. Fan of the recent category of “red blends” filling wine-store shelves? Again, spend some time with Grenache: It’s the backbone of one of the original great red blends, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, whose luscious richness many of those wines try to hint at (but rarely achieve). Grown everywhere from southern France to central Spain to coastal California to Australia’s sunlit hills, Grenache is the greatest, most widely planted, yet (weirdly) little-known grape around.
DASHE CELLARS ORGANICALLY-GROWN, HIGH-ALTITUDE RIESLING IS CRISP, CLEAN, AND WONDERFULLY DRY
It’s nearing 1:00 PM and the marine layer is just beginning to burn off at the 2000-ft-high McFadden Farm in Potter Valley, Mendocino. It’s here where Mike and Anne Dashe harvest their grapes for their renowned Dashe Cellars Dry Riesling. These organically-certified 50-year old vines grow in a distinct micro-climate with warm days and cool nights, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and develop complex flavors. This terroir is perfect for making aromatic, lovely dry Riesling—a complete change of pace from traditional, sweet German wines made from the same varietal.
Click Here to buy the 2017 Dry Riesling
A glass in the kitchen and a bottle on the table! Try this amazing recipe that both pairs perfectly with Dashe Cellars’ Dry Riesling and uses Riesling to make this savory pork-and-cabbage dish.
BOSSÄM WITH RIESLING SSÄM SAUCE
2015 'Ancient Vines', Red Blend | 93 points, Gold
2017 Zinfandel Reserve, Dry Creek Valley | 93 points, Gold
2016 Petite Sirah, Todd Brothers Ranch | 93 points, Gold
2016 Old-Vine Zinfandel, Todd Brothers Ranch | 91 points, Silver
NOTABLE SOMMELIER RECOMMENDS 4 CALIFORNIA WINES, 6 FAVORITE CRAFT BREWERIES
BY GARY STOLLER
Dashe Cellars "Les Enfants Terribles” Zinfandel 2016, Mendocino, California.
“This cuvée from Dashe, the well-regarded producer of wines from old vineyards in the North Coast, isn’t your typical zinfandel. The winery is based in Oakland, but it works with fruit from places like Sonoma and Mendocino. Based on the initial recommendation of a neighborhood sommelier who tended to favor ‘natural wine,’ Mike and Anne Dashe decided to try to make something different.
“They loved it so much that they’ve put it in to full production. Les Enfants Terribles is a different approach —no additions, including yeast, and 100% whole clusters of grapes. The latter creates a carbonic environment for the fermentation more familiar to lovers of Beaujolais than the typical California zin. Great with a little chill, it is a perfect red for tricky food pairings like Thai spice or other Asian flavors.”
Though the craft beer explosion may dominate liquor-industry headlines, it’s an exciting time, too, for American wines, according to a renowned U.S. wine expert.
“We are really moving away from the old days when wine was made to a sense of style,” says Chad Walsh, the sales manager for wine importer Skurnik Wines & Spirits and former sommelier at Agern restaurant in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. "California chardonnay, for example, was manipulated to taste the same whether it was from the Sonoma Coast or Santa Barbara, and now we’re moving toward making wine with a sense of place.”
The U.S. has an increasing number of mature wine-growing regions and old vines producing fruit, says Walsh, who adds that European experts consider a vine old after about 40 years. There is also greater interest in “de-industrializing farming in general,” he says, “which is only possible because consumers are willing to pay higher prices for things that they can feel good about putting in their bodies.”
Food & Wine magazine named Walsh one of its 2017 Sommeliers of the Year when he worked at Agern.
"Guided by the as-local-as-possible sensibility of chef Gunnar Gislason's kitchen, Walsh has used his expansive knowledge of U.S. wines to create an ambitious, all-American list," Food & Wine said. "His choices balance classic producers with proven track records against some of the most exciting upstarts in the wine world."
Prior to working at Agern, Walsh worked at two other notable New York restaurants. He was the sommelier at Aureole in midtown Manhattan and the beverage manager at the Dutch in SoHo.
Asked to name some current favorite U.S. wines, Walsh recommended four and provided reasons why.
THE 52 CALIFORNIA WINERIES YOU NEED TO VISIT IN 2019
BY ESTHER MOBLEY
You don’t have to venture far from Jack London Square in Oakland to taste some of California’s best Zinfandels. Mike and Anne Dashe began making Dry Creek Valley Zin in 1996 and now source fruit from a range of excellent vineyards, many of them historic, encompassing not only Zinfandel but also Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Carignan. Taste these wines at their warehouse-style winery; for just $15 you’ll drink better than you could at most Oakland bars.
Today, California wine country stretches all over the state, no longer confined to the familiar stretches of Napa and Sonoma. If you’re taking a road trip, you’re more likely than not to happen upon a wine region. But with more than 3,600 wineries in California, according to Wines Vines Analytics, how do you choose where to spend your money, time and alcohol tolerance?
Allow us to help. Here at The Press, our team of wine experts has been busy visiting tasting rooms from Mendocino County to Paso Robles, determining which offer the highest-quality wines, the most fun experiences and the best bang for your buck. As always, we conduct these visits according to the same principle with which our parent publication, The San Francisco Chronicle, would conduct a restaurant review: We visit anonymously and pay our own way. The fruits of that labor are the hundreds of independently conducted, expert-written winery reviews published on The Press.
But you don’t have time to read hundreds of winery reviews. So we’ve culled through our notes and come up with a collection of 52 — one for each week in 2019. This is not an all-time best-wineries-ever list; it’s a group of places that we think represents the breadth and diversity of California wineries and tasting experiences this year. Whether you want an in-depth educational tasting, an Instagram-worthy setting with delicious bites of food or simply a cheap, quick and easy tasting bar, we’ve got you covered.
The Press’ team of wine experts is led by me, Esther Mobley, and includes Virginie Boone, Matt Kettmann, Chris Macias, Sara Schneider, Tim Teichgraeber and Bryce Wiatrak. All of our work contributed to this feature.
Give a gift that will make a lasting impression! Dashe Cellars is helping to make your holiday shopping fast and easy. Beautiful gift boxes; superb pre-selected wine sets…..and this year we’re offering
Complimentary Ground Shipping
Complimentary Black Satin Finish Gift Packaging
on all sets in our Holiday Shop.