17 June, 2019
Take a Wine Walk in Jack London Square!Posted in : Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Mead, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine, Wine on by : becca
Last summer, I was invited to take part in Jack London Square’s first Wine Walk. As two more Wine Walks are coming up on July 27 and September 28, I thought this a great time to write up the event and encourage y’all to check it out!
Obligatory disclaimer: As a media member, I did not pay anything to attend the Wine Walk. General admission is $40 and includes four hours of live music, vendors, and of course, dedicated tasting time with twenty different local wineries within the scenic confines of Jack London Square.
Yes, there will be lines, but I found it relatively easy to slip in and out of them, veering toward the ones that had lesser crowds. That’s how I discovered Enat Winery, a specialist in Ethiopian-style honey wines based right here in Oakland.
Enat is named for co-owner Debbie Gebeyehu’s grandmother, who used to make her own honey wine, otherwise known as mead, to share among friends. Enat Winery distributes nationally, and their “Tej” wines, in traditional and orange blossom options, are available at many East Bay stores and restaurants – we are blessed with a large Ethiopian community in this area to support them.
I tried the Enat Winery Orange Blossom Honey Wine, and I loved it. It shared that dusty intensity that most meads possess while boasting a faint floral element that combined well with the low heat of its alcohol. A sweet tingle of acidity set it a step above my expectations. I’d happily have it again.
Another highlight was Wachira Wines, which is on the list of participating wineries for the upcoming Wine Walks. At a special press session, I enjoyed a more leisurely tasting of Wachira’s wines than regular attendees are likely to get, but I’m sure owner Christine Wachira will be on hand and happy to share with you the story of these Kenyan-inspired wines.
Wachira sources grapes from California to make wines that reflect the softer, lighter style that Kenyans, and a lot of wine tasters who’ve tired of high alcohol products, appreciate. Thus far, Wachira Wines makes cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, muscat, and sparkling wine, all of which are nonvintage. The colors in their name on the label design reflect the Kenyan and American flags.
I found the Wachira Wines Cabernet Sauvignon quite appealing, with notes of dried strawberries and flowers on the nose. Its body was remarkably light for a cabernet, with smooth leather tannins. With food, the wine’s spice notes released.
The Wachira Wines Muscat is also worth noting, especially with summer here. Normally, I think of muscat as a dessert wine because of its inherent sweetness. Wachira’s was indeed sweet, but with only 10% ABV, it offered a refreshing alternative choice for an afternoon in the sun. Peach and golden grape notes abounded.
This year, it appears there will be private lounge areas for VIP guests instead. Inside the lounges, those free nibbles will be available and premium wines sampled. That sounds like a great improvement to the VIP experience! It eliminates the awkwardness of having to ask for a sample at the restaurants, provides a space for breathers from the crowd, and offers access to more wines unavailable elsewhere on the Wine Walk. And you don’t want to miss out on trying wares like this sampler plate from Farmhouse Kitchen Thai.
Farmhouse Kitchen Thai has proven itself a great addition to Jack London Square since it opened last summer. But the Wine Walk’s focus is on wine, so I wanted to highlight one more new-to-me wine from this event: Rock Wall 2017 Sparkling Rosé Wine.
It reminded me of one of my dad’s old favorite drinks: New York Seltzer’s cherry flavor with tons of dry bubbles. Cherry and strawberry notes reign with a suggestion of vanilla at the end. A flinty depth can be discovered as you dive into the glass.
I’m not sure what entertainment acts will appear at the Wine Walks this year, but last year, it was a pleasure to discover the Luminescent Grand stylings of William Jerome.
A digital midi keyboard, built into a grand piano, is programmed to interact with an LED light display that’s responsive to the notes being played, producing an intriguing light show along with the great tickling of keys. Here’s a recording from the event:
I’ll leave you with one last tip for attending the Wine Walk at Jack London Square: COME EARLY. If last year was any indication, the Wine Walk will be swamped by an hour into it. The word is out, folks! To make the best use of your time, either spring for that VIP pass or come prepared to stake out the wines you’d like to sample from the get-go. Happy tasting!