The Three Faces of Bluxome Street Winery
Bluxome Street Winery is a celebration of California winemaking history. More than a century ago, SOMA—then called South of the Slot—was the center of new-world wineries. To pay homage to that legendary time, Bluxome draws upon rustic decor and old-school practices, such as sourcing high-quality fruit from small, meticulously farmed vineyards.
Crisp Pinot Noir
Bluxome also extends its reach to a Balinard vineyard in Russian River. There, three acres of pinot noir clones grow in an organic environment, producing the fruit that composes Bluxome’s aromatic, smooth, and electric wines that linger on the palate and pair perfectly with steak.
The last Saturday of every month sees the winery explode into a community-focused farmers market filled with artisan food vendors. Pinot in hand, visitors are free to roam among vendors such as Sinful Salt and Crescent Farm, tasting the honey of Gerard’Z Honeybees and the jam of Grandma’s Homemade. This eclectic gathering is perhaps a reason readers of the San Fransisco Bay Guardian named Bluxome one of the Best Wineries in 2013.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, co-owner Angie Ansanelli called Treasure Island Flea "an upscale urban marketplace,” adding, “We curate all the vendors." She and her husband Charles devoted two years to scouring the region for unique merchants, including dealers of vintage goods and antiques, local wineries, and gourmet food trucks. It was the natural culmination of a 25-year marriage and business partnership spent manning a string of entertainment and retail shops on Pier 39.
Those early businesses gave way to a line of patriotic sportswear just in time for the 1994 Olympics, an endeavor that ultimately inspired Treasure Island Flea: the pair wanted to market their new duds at an open-air market, but, unable to find one or lift the roof off one of their existing shops, they created their own. Today, Treasure Island Flea harbors finds such as furniture crafted from recycled ship wood, hand-stitched bags, and pinball machines. Breaks in shopping and eating are filled with live music, scavenger hunts, and do-it-yourself workshops.
Tucked in between Mount Konocti and Benson Ridge in the Mayacamas, 70 acres of rolling green land sprouts rows of tangling grapevines. This is Sol Rouge, a vineyard and winery dedicated to producing grape varietals of southern France's Rhone and Bordeaux regions. The owners chose the location because of its rich, red volcanic soil and microclimates, which are similar to the French regions' characteristics. The land is ideal for growing such grape varieties as grenache, mourvèdre, counoise, and cabernet franc, and they harvest them to produce wines in small lots and very limited quantities.
Because of their wine's scarcity, they discourage bathing in it and offer it only to wine-club members and those on their mailing list. However, having toiled endlessly on producing such fine wines, they want to share it with as many wine lovers as possible. At their winery tasting room on Treasure Island, they treat guests to samples and their extensive wine knowledge. For further merriment, they invite visitors to play spirited games of bocce ball on their private court.
Within the Winery Collective's multi-winery tasting room, grape savants uncork the flavorful nuances of liquid harvests hailing from more than 2 dozen of California's boutique wineries from Santa Barbara to Napa Valley. Winemakers and enthusiasts guide palates through wine-flight menus, which are culled from the more than 100 vinos that line the tasting room's walls and, like the political views of a housecat, change daily. The Winery Collective also hosts private and semiprivate parties and corporate events, during which guests mingle and sip in a lofted earth-toned lounge outfitted with crisscrossing wooden shelves that display colorful wine bottles and shapely decanters.
On bike tours with Gears and Grapes Getaways, groups cycle through the iconic Napa Valley, internationally recognized as one of the nine Great Wine Capitals in the world, and the slightly-more-indie Sonoma Valley, home to nearly every type of grape grown in California.
Groups typically stop at four boutique wineries during the tours, pausing at midday for a gourmet picnic lunch. Those who get tired of pedaling or who want to pretend they're on a stakeout can hop on the shuttle that follows close behind at any time. Guides also take visitors on tours of wineries and breweries in San Francisco proper.
Vie Winery takes its name from the contemporary French word for "life," which also served as the Old French word for "to invite" or "to give occasion for." Life, and the welcoming, friend-filled gatherings that make it worth living, are at the center of Vie Winery's philosophy. Winemakers make Rhone varietal- and Zinfandel-based wines best enjoyed among friends, whether it's over a game of bocce ball at the winery or a game of vase bowling in your living room. Vie Winery sources its grapes from local vineyards and adopts its techniques from traditional, Old World winemaking methods, reflecting its dedication to the intimacy associated with wine.