Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Oakland wines headed to Hong Kong

By cburt
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 4:00 pm in Jean Quan, Port of Oakland, Uncategorized.

So it took a little digging, but I finally got the scoop on the Oakland wineries that provided bottles of wine for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to take along on her trade mission to China.

She’s been handing out some bottles as gifts to dignitaries and business people, but the majority of the Oakland bottles will be uncorked for tasting Thursday at new California Vintage wine bar on Wyndham Street in Hong Kong. California Vintage is a business launched by a group of California wineries, including a couple from Alameda, but none from Oakland.

Quan is hoping that will change when she and Port of Oakland officials visit the business on the last day of the three-city trade mission to promote trade and business with China.

China is the largest client for U.S. agriculture, and the Port of Oakland handles about 90 percent of the California wine exports to China, which is a growing market for red wines. Quan said her group has been able to order California red wines in restaurants in Beijing, but there is fierce competition from Australia, Chile and France.

Wine is a growing business in Oakland too, where nine or so small urban wineries have sprouted in the past few years.  Of those, Urban Legend, JC Cellars,

and Dashe Cellars included bottles for Quan’s trip.

Oakland's Urban Legend winery sent this wine and several other to China.

Oakland's Urban Legend winery sent this wine and several others to China.

The mayor also plans to visit the Hong Kong Convention and Exposition Centre Exposition Hall in Hong Kong where Dashe Cellars is participating in the wine and spirits HOFEX 2011 food and hospitality trade show.

“We think it’s great and we’re very pleased that (the mayor) is aware there are wineries in Oakland and very pleased that we could help out and showcase Oakland’s potential for export business,” said Steve Shaffer, who with Marilee Shaffer is a partner in Urban Legend Winery on Fourth Street in Oakland. They sent a selection of seven wines, white and red.

“I happen to be prejudice and think we have the world’s best grapes,” he said. “We’re hoping to get some pictures back from the trip. I’d love to see some dignitaries in China drinking our wine.”

Jeff Cohn of JC Cellars also thinks discerning Chinese wine lovers will be impressed with his offerings of Smoke and Mirrors blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and petite Syrah grapes, and appreciates the mayor’s efforts to promote Oakland wineries.

“I’m excited to be part of it,” he said.

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