Our cup runneth over in Oakland these days. Not only are we drawing some of the best chefs in California, our love affair with food is spilling over to the wine industry.
The two-day Passport to Urban Wine Country begins Saturday, showcasing the wines of more than 22 artisans who make up the East Bay Vintner's Alliance. Montclarion Jérôme Aubin is one of these winemakers. Aubin grew up in France and moved to Santa Rosa in the mid-1990s when his company took its barrel-making expertise to America.
"We went from making three or four barrels a day to 25 a day when we left," he says. "I interacted with lots of winemakers and owners and saw the industry really blossoming and blooming in the late '90s."
By 2001, he'd been seduced into winemaking. And here's proof that we live in a small world. Living just down the hill from me, Aubin says he had a knock on the door one day. It was neighbor Jack States, asking him about the wine barrels in his driveway. States invited Aubin to join the East Bay Vintners Alliance, and Aubin has been an active member ever since. His Verve label wines can be found throughout the west and locally at Piedmont Grocery.
Aubin will be pouring in Jack London Square this weekend at JC Cellars and Dashe Cellars. The sixth annual Passport to Urban Wine Country weekend is an opportunity for wine lovers to meet local winemakers and drink wines made from grapes sourced throughout Northern and Central California. Local restaurants are providing the food pairings.
"We want to give East Bay locals a sense of urban winemaking," Aubin says. "There's no need to travel to Napa or Sonoma, because small vintners are crafting good wines here in the East Bay." For ticket prices and more information, go to: http://www.eastbayvintners.com.
Street talk: Ten thousand pairs of feet will hit the ground running next week in one of Oakland's biggest festivals. This is the fifth year for the Oakland Running Festival -- a marathon, half marathon and 5K event that brings an estimated $3.5 million in revenue to the City. If you're not running and would like to help, organizer Tod Vedock says they need course marshals. Or, you could just cheer for the runners as they pass through the Temescal, Rockridge and Montclair neighborhoods. Check out the course schedule at www.oaklandmarathon.com.
Around town: Montclair Veterinary Hospital is in the middle of a big remodel and expansion. Word has it they're almost doubling their size in the space between Bank of America and Lucky.
And speaking of animals ... the horse structures at Montclair Park haven't escaped -- they've been removed by the city after being damaged by vandals. There is a budget to repair or replace them, so expect to see steeds back in Western Town soon.