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December 4, 2014

4 San Francisco Wines You Should Buy For Your Friends

Those of you who are visiting San Francisco might have some very jealous friends and relatives back home. You might want to bring them back a coffee mug with the Giants logo or a snow globe of the Golden Gate Bridge but how about this: a bottle of wine that was made within the city’s borders. 

We’re still a few years off from having usable vineyards in San Francisco – though word is that is not too into the future – but there are a number of winemaking facilities in San Francisco.

Local winemaking is not new. Italian immigrants led the way in the late 19th century with rudimentary presses in their homes that were used to crush grapes sourced from Napa, Sonoma, Lodi and other nearby counties. Even during Prohibition, winemaking continued in North Beach quite literally, underground. 

As California’s wine industry has soared over the last few decades, the scenic regions to our north have pulled aspiring winemakers from the city but a handful of people have refused to relocate. Instead of having a long commute they’ve either joined facilities such as Dog Patch WineWorks, set up shop in old warehouses or make wine in their garage. 

You can read about Dogpatch WineWorks and Bluxome Street Winery, San Francisco’s two largest wineries, in previous posts, and since both have facilities that are open to the public it is possible to visit them and taste wines on site. But there are a few others San Francisco based wineries that are making wines every bit as good as those located in wine country. Here are a few to check out.

August West and Sandler

Ed Kurtzman, who has consulted to a whole bunch of other folks over the years, makes both of these labels. Working primarily with Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel and Chardonnay, he crafts wines that have varietal character and a sense of balance.

Cellars 33

John and Katie Fones are Maryland transplants but they seem to have made a very easy transition to the Bay Area since arriving in 2010. John was an attorney in his previous life but after interning at Freeman and taking some tips from Kurtzman and others, he and Katie launched Cellars 33, which for now is Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel focused.

Harrington Wines

Bryan Harrington’s facility is tucked away behind a metal shop in Hunters Point. Once or twice a year he has an open house and the best way to find out about this to join his mailing list. Harrington is an iconoclast in many respects. Several of his wines are made without sulfur and even those that are not have low levels of manipulation.

Von Holt

Chris Von Holt, a San Francisco native, and his wife, Pam prefer wines that have cooler climate characteristics and the wines reflect this as they are not too heavy or fruity when compared to others from California.

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