From the wineries of Jack London Square to the tasting rooms sprinkled downtown, Oakland's wine trail is an impressive complement to the city's world-class culinary scene. At the Fourth Street warehouse housing JC Cellars and Dashe Cellars, you can taste some of the most highly lauded syrahs and zinfandels in California. Venture across the freeway to the 25th Street Collective that Two Mile Wines calls home, and discover stunning examples of boutique sangiovese and viognier. Here's a sampling of wineries that stood out for us, have regular tasting room hours and form a mini-wine trail of their own. Check their websites for hours and other details.
Dashe Cellars: Mike and Anne Dashe have been making stellar Sonoma County zinfandels and Rhône-style wines for 17 years (10 in the 16,000-square-foot winery they share with JC Cellars) using cool-climate fruit from low-yielding vines, native-yeast fermentations, and minimal handling. Be sure to try 2011's The Comet, an intense, old-vine zinfandel commemorating Comet ISON, and the 2012 Potter Valley Dry riesling, a dead ringer for the Mosel. Stay tuned for a first-time Sierra Foothills Grenache Blanc to be released in April. (55 Fourth St.; www.dashe cellars.com)
JC Cellars: The name Jeff Cohn has been synonymous with zinfandel since he was the winemaker at Rosenblum Cellars in the 1990s and crafted more than 70 different wines per year. Today, he's down to 20-something, with a focus on Rhône varietals sourced from some of the best vineyards in California, including Rockpile in Sonoma County and Stagecoach in Napa (This one's a rock-star cabernet). The 2012 Impostor is classic Cohn Rhône, jammy yet elegant. Be on the lookout for a new Stagecoach viognier and a zinfandel aging in amphora. (55 Fourth St., www.jccellars.com)
Urban Legend Cellars: Down the street in the Ironworks district, a former biologist, Marilee Shaffer, and her engineer husband, Steve, are showing off an eclectic portfolio of wines crafted almost exclusively from organically farmed vineyards. The 2009 Teroldego is all black: blackberry, black pepper and black figs. The 2012 Rosati Di Barbera is light and juicy, a serious strawberry lemonade. Be sure to ask about the latest wine in their Neighborhood line, Jingletown, a blend of grenache, syrah and pinot noir celebrating the pocket arts community west of Fruitvale. (621 Fourth St.; www.ulcellars.com)
Periscope Cellars: Brendan Eliason's new tasting room in Old Oakland's Swan's Market is not only a great place to mingle with hipsters and taste wine; it is, undeniably, the best place to enjoy gourmet grub and wine pairing in the area. The former Va de Vi sommelier serves seven to 10 of his wines, including a Russian River Valley chardonnay and Sonoma County sangiovese, both 2009, from a keg tap alongside Rosamunde's sausages and Miss Ollie's fried chicken. Can't decide? Get the wine "to go" in a 500-ml refillable flip-top bottle. (Swan's Market, 517 Ninth St.; periscopecellars.com)
Two Mile Wines: Bill Bedsworth and Adam Nelson run their boutique operation out of the 25th Street Collective, an incubator housing slow-food and slow-fashion artisans. They source fruit from sustainable vineyards across Sonoma County and the Central Coast and make and pour their handcrafted wines, including a beautiful, Old World-style Dry Creek sangiovese, alongside Platinum Dirt's Dustin Page, who makes leather goods out of recycled materials salvaged from old cars. A great stop during Art Murmur. (477 25th St.; twomilewines.com)
Stage Left Cellars: On the first Saturday of each month, owner Melinda Doty and winemaker Rich Williams open their cellar doors to the public for tastings of their handcrafted, microlot Rhône-style wines, from Central Coast viognier and roussanne to juicy Santa Maria grenache and meaty syrah from Oregon's Rogue Valley. (2102 Dennison St.; www.stageleft cellars.com)
-- Jessica Yadegaran