By Granate Sosnoff
Wine drinkers are fortunate to be in Oakland at a time when creativity, brains and urban winemaking has reached a stride of excellence. Some pretty intriguing characters are behind the scenes as well, including the people of Two Mile Wines.
Ten years ago, before the current explosion of creative and socially conscious food and wine in Oakland, a group of friends with a mix of college degrees started making wine together in their backyards and basements. In the process – of part science, art, and get-your-hands-dirty hard work – they started creating some highly drinkable wines.
People tried them and began saying inspiring things like: “Hey, this is really good.” Adding, “No, I mean it.” And the idea for Two Mile Wines came about.
Two Mile launched with a mission to create great wine, with the best-tasting, sustainably grown grapes they could find – from good people. After an initial bottling in 2006 the once 15-person business dwindled to a smaller core group and is now basically two guys.
I met one of the guys, Adam Nelson, a man with a mysterious day job (wouldn’t divulge) and a passion for winemaking, drinking and hard women (I made that last part up). Unlike other men of mystery, Adam turned out to be an interesting, swell person who in the midst of harvest sat down and drank some of their stellar offerings with me.
Two Mile’s tasting room is located in the Portlandia-style 25th Street Collective, Uptown Oakland, an über-cool place where I tried on a motorcycle jacket made out of a used Cadillac seat. Yes I did.
The wines are exceptional. And proof that with an intentionally light touch, in the right hands, outstanding, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic grapes yield a swoon-worthy bottle.
The fact that Two Mile ascribes to a credo that’s basically “no working with assholes” makes it even better.
This morals-driven business practice is just one more way that an Oakland winery is changing the landscape out there. If Adam and partner, Bill Bedsworth, like a grower and their grapes, they’ll commit to a five-year process to transform the fruit to organic. It makes everyone happy.
But morals and mission mean nothing in the world of wine if it doesn’t taste good and these wines are some of the best in California.
Of the four reds we tried, a favorite was the 2008 Founders Rock. It is a blend of 60% organic Petite Sirah and 40% biodynamic Syrah from vineyards in Livermore and Dry Creek Valley, respectively. Biodynamic refers to the lack of intervention grapes get on the vine. Basically when grapes are stressed by naturally occurring climate, soil, and water conditions, they develop interesting flavors and characteristics as survivors.
Much like the kid who succeeds after a tough childhood and has that extra little “something-something” that makes them stand out in a crowd, this wine does the same.
The Founders Rock is also affordable. At $18, it’s a Sunset Magazine Gold (among 5,000 wines) and a reminder to thank our lucky stars that we are able to stumble upon a tasting room in Oakland on a Saturday afternoon, taste for free, and walk out with delicious wine for under $20.
We sipped their white wine, a Viognier, ($24, crisp, bright and delightful, maybe not so abused on the vine?); a 2008/2009 Sangiovese from Dry Creek ($28) a wine my friend April called “Pretty!” and that I fawned over as well (my favorite); an Ice Wine dessert wine (which the people who like dessert wine loved); and their new release, 2010 Giovanna’s Red ($20) from Sonoma. It’s a Super Tuscan style wine (theirs a Sangiovese/Cabernet blend) named after the owner of Uptown Body and Fender on 26th Street. I actually liked this wine A LOT as well.
The 2007 Syrah, also biodynamically farmed and a Sunset medal winner, completed our tasting.
Adam referred to some of the grapes Two Mile chooses as having so little intervention that they are almost wild.
If you go, and you should just go, you’ll meet Deborah, their very friendly gem of a tasting room manager. She pours at Two Mile Wines during their regular tastings on Saturdays 2-6 pm and on Oakland’s First Fridays where you can get a $5 glass. You can also find Two Mile in a growing list of restaurants and local wine shops like Vino on Piedmont Avenue.
Two Mile Wines
477 25th Street