I feel bad for winemakers because they know so much, work so hard to make this amazing beverage, and then have to sell it to poor slobs like me.

So yes maybe I smoked for 13 years (20 years clean, thank you) I am still told by many a kind winemaker that I have a pretty good palate and a nose for wine.

The urban winemakers I’ve met in the Bay Area are pretty identical to the artists I know: working hard and putting in many hours creating something unique that people may or may not like, buy or see. But they do it anyway.

I’ve found that the winemakers are also kind about each other’s wine, because they know about the heart and work that goes into it.

The rest of us get to choose and judge of course.

My story is that I like to drink at least as much as the AMA, surgeon general, French people in the know, and Italians on the street do. In other words, at least a couple glasses after 5 pm and with food. I am not made of money and need to find quality product for a discerning palate and body that needs to wake up and work again, so cheap crap is out of the question.

In Italy, France and Spain you can get a good house bottle of red for a couple euros and guess what you can almost do the same here, without handing your hard-earned money to a major conglomerate.


At Rock Wall Wines in Alameda you can buy a nice table red for $14.* Rock Wall was founded by Kent Rosenblum and his daughter Shauna – who just happens to be a visual artist as well as a winemaker. Kent Rosenblum is like the godfather of urban winemaking, who has greatly influenced and inspired the practice. (FYI – his previous winery, Rosenblum Cellars, was purchased a few years back so that wine isn’t his product anymore.)


Rosenblum has been proving for over 30 years that you can take grapes from the best vineyards and make excellent wine in an urban environment. His daughter is a lot like him, an adventurous and daring winemaker, with a soft spot for bubbly.


You can try their wines at Rock Wall’s date-worthy, gorgeous tasting room. Make sure to check out the 2010 Rock Hound Red. It’s not going to impress your boss like a $50 Cabernet (they have other wines that will though) but it’s going to go down smooth, won’t overpower your food and is a stand-up wine with a good pedigree.


Comprised of 70% Syrah and 30% Petite Sirah (yeah the spelling throws me too) it was inspired by winemaker Shauna Rosenblum’s rescue pit pull, “Sunny.” A portion of the proceeds from its sale goes to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter.

What more do you want?

Yes, you can get a watery Pinot Noir for $8 at the grocery store with a yellow label and a focus group-tested name like “Owl Hut.” OR you can try a few wines at a local winery (10 minutes from downtown Oakland) with an amazing view and get your tasting comped when you buy this affordable beauty.


It’s your choice people. And, you’re welcome.


*Just contacted Rock Wall and if you tell them at the tasting room that you read Oakland Local they’ll sell you Rock Hound for $12.

Granate Sosnoff is a nonprofit communications professional and Mugsy pop-up wine bar producer frequently in need of a good glass of wine.

18 Responses

  1. diane

    Interesting article. I didn’t know that Rock Hound was Rosenblum’s. I’ll go try it out.

  2. Mara

    Good for you for promoting and supporting local wines made with skill and passion. Cheers!

  3. Beth t

    Love this column! Is it new? It’s witty and informative without being snobby- very Oakland!

  4. Susan Mernit

    I am a total wine head (I like beer too, btw), so getting these positive comments for our first wine column makes me SOOOOOO happy! Share your favs, please, we are all looking for quality, affordable wines and local shops that sell them.

  5. mark

    It’s very encouraging to hear about positive things in and around Oakland…thank you!

  6. Granate

    Happy to justify wine drinking with Oakland Local – so many great winemakers in the Bay Area – look forward to profiling more great finds. Thanks for reading…

  7. Spring

    love this. thanks for a bit of enlightenment. look forward to more.

  8. lisalee

    Great article! So many awesome East Bay wineries. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on them.

  9. Liz

    Great article!! Love to support local artisans and all those who work their butts off. Thanks for highlighting them!


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