Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

East Bay Vintners growing to 17

By Jessica Yadegaran
Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 at 4:50 pm in Uncategorized.

Irish Monkey Cellars

As you get acquainted with the wineries of the East Bay Vintners in today’s Food & Wine section, be prepared to welcome two more into the mix. They’re both long-time home winemakers who decided to take the plunge. And while they’re both in the early stages of commercial development, I wanted to break what little news I have here.

Two Mile Wine is a group of five guys from different backgrounds of the industry — a business man, a wine bar manager, a PhD scientist and two Mondavi harvest groms — who make about 650 cases of Viognier, Sangiovese and biodynamic Syrah a year. Cool factor: some grapes come from a 40-45 degree slope vineyard at Unti in Healdsburg, Matt Bramwell, one of the Two Mile guys, tells me.

They’ve been at A Donkey and Goat since last year, their first commercial year, but have plans to move into their own space at San Pablo Avenue and Grayson in the near future. It’s a stone’s throw from Seasalt, and if I know that block, I’m confident the restaurant will be carrying the boys’ Viognier to pair with their fish and chips before long. The fruit comes from Tom Bloomfield’s vineyard in Brentwood. Let’s hope they churn out a delicate (read: not too hot) Viognier.

While Two Mile does mostly direct sales to friends and family, expect that to change, as they’ve scaled back on varietals, increased volume and have that fabulous future location.

Second up is Irish Monkey Cellars. Winemaker Bob Lynch along with his wife Loreta have made wine for 10 years, and recently took the commercial plunge. Their production is about double Two Miles’ (1,000 cases in 2006; 1,500 for 2007) and their portfolio is quite broad and impressive:

A Bordeaux meritage is the flagship of the line. The “knights,” as Bob calls them, of the collection are Syrah, SyrBec (a Syrah and Malbec blend), Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Merlot, Cabernet Franc Solo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a limited port-type wine made from the floral Portuguese Touriga Nationale grape.

They make a table red from Sangiovese blended with Merlot, Malbec and a small portion of Syrah. I’m anxious to taste all of these wines, especially the Bordeaux meritage and Syrbec, and will let you know when I get my grubby hands on some. The wine is currently being tested in fine local restaurants, and the Lynches are scouting space in the East Bay to plant their winery.

Curious about the names of the labels? Irish Monkey Cellars is a combo-homage to Bob’s Irish roots and his wife’s Asian flair, as he puts it. Two Mile Wine is a shout out to the two-mile dry zone surrounding the UC Berkeley campus when it was built back in the late 1800s. All five guys live in Berzerkley.

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