Many visitors still don't know there are San Francisco wineries to enjoy, never mind where to find the best San Francisco wineries. While a trip to wine country is always welcome you do not have to leave the city to go wine tasting. San Francisco offers many urban wine tasting experiences. Some wine tasting rooms feature the wines they produce in neighboring wine regions like Napa but with the convenience of being in the city. Other San Francisco wineries make their wine in facilities located right in the city. Either way, the convenience of staying local combined with the high-quality wines available makes urban wine tasting in San Francisco compelling.
The San Francisco Wine Scene
There was a rich history of winemaking in the city of San Francisco long before it reached the rural areas of Napa and Sonoma. The typical wine lover of that era was far more likely to purchase wine from a local warehouse operation than a grand Napa estate. Unfortunately, a combination of the 1906 earthquake and Prohibition brought an end to urban winemaking as San Francisco's wineries shuttered and remained closed for decades.
Today a few wineries have opened their production facilities in warehouse spaces in the SOMA and Dogpatch districts in the south part of the city. There are also a group of tasting rooms located on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. Additionally, a couple of wineries from Napa and Sonoma have opened second tasting rooms in the city. You can find an even greater concentration of winemakers across the Bay in Oakland, but let's stick to San Francisco wineries for now.
Where To Find The Best San Francisco Wineries
Dog Patch Wineries
The Dog Patch is funky neighborhood on the south side of the city. This was a mostly run down industrial area for a good chunk of its recent history. Developers started to cast their eyes at the Dog Patch after the successful development of the area around Pac Bell Park. The neighborhood is now a mix of recently upgraded commercial buildings and some funky warehouse spaces. There are some nice restaurants and shops, but the real gems are the boutique wineries. These wineries are located in renovated warehouse spaces and have the feel of true urban winemaking.
Bluxome Street Winery
53 Bluxome Street, San Francisco
A few blocks from Giants ballpark, Bluxome Street Winery converted a warehouse into a hip space where the empty wine barrels have been converted into speakers and the light fixtures are glass demijohns. Bluxome Steet owns the organic Balinard vineyard in Russian River where they grow three pinot noir clones. But they built the winery in the city to revive the historic tradition of winemaking in San Francisco. Flights are $12-$18 and include three to five wines. Small snacks are available as well.
2455 Third Street, San Francisco
This large tasting room is open to everyone on Sundays from 12 - 6 pm. The wine is made on site. The tasting room doubles as a popular event space for local companies. You can rent it out for large groups along with a selection of their wines. The winery also offers private tastings if you contact them in advance.
There is also a custom crush facility on site. That means you can fulfill your dream of making your own wine. There are a few different levels of commitment. The most basic level is producing a single barrel of wine with the assistance of the Dogpatch Wineworks staff. You decide how involved you want to be at this level. You can also just rent the crush facility and manage the winemaking process yourself. Ready to get your hands stained? This is the best San Francisco winery for you.
SoMa or "south of Market St." is another formerly industrial area of the city. This long neglected neighborhood started to boom in the late nineties due to an influx of tech companies. Old warehouses and industrial facilities were repurposed to serve the legion of young programmers bent on shaping the future of the web.
The neighborhood became trendy as restaurants and bars followed the techies. It's not surprising that some of best San Francisco wineries followed. As some of the tech warriors burnt out on cyberspace, they entered the physical realm of winemaking. They didn't stray far from their roots when looking for tasting room space.
1345 Howard Street (at Dore Street), San Francisco
Some local techies wanted to replicate the joys of a leisurely booze fueled lunch. They decided the best way to do it was to open an urban winery. The beautifully designed Tank 18 tasting room is the result. You can enjoy wines created from Napa, Lodi, Sonoma or Santa Cruz grapes expertly paired with small bites and food truck fair.
The winery offers to refill your old wine bottles with their divine juice. This is done for a reasonable rate and makes this one of the best San Francisco wineries for anyone on a tight wine budget. Stop by the tasting room from Thursday to Sunday to understand the joys of urban winemaking (and wine drinking!)
Jax Vineyards and Tasting Room
326 Brannan Street (in between 2nd and 3rd), San Francisco
Urban wineries may not offer the romance of the vineyard but they a convenient way to taste wine in the city. Jax is an urban outpost for a very serious Calistoga based winery. Jax has established a reputation for quality with high scores from some of the most respected critics in the wine world. That is the beauty of the best San Francisco wineries and tasting rooms. You have easy access to great Napa wine.
Jax also offers a laid back environment so you can de-stress and get refocused. Book a private tasting if you want to dig deeper into their wine portfolio. Rent out their space for a corporate event if you want to make your employees happy. Or just meet up with some wine loving friend for their Happy Hour Tue - Fri from 4:00 to 8:00 pm.
Treasure Island Wineries
This mostly ignored and odd little island in San Francisco Bay is home to our next grouping of the best San Francisco wineries. While this isn't the most accessible spot in the city, it does have great views and enough tasting rooms to make it worth the trip. There is a mix of winery outposts and local producers on the island. Here are a few of our favorite.
400 California Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94130
30 Avenue G, San Francisco, CA 94130
More San Francisco Wineries To Visit
Chateau Montelena Winery
The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square
335 Powell St, San Francisco
No need to head to Napa when you can just head to The Westin St. Francis on Union Square to taste the wines made famous in the Judgement of Paris blind wine tasting in 1976. Tucked into the main lobby of the hotel, the tasting room is a nice respite from the crowds of Union Square. The tiny tasting room can seat five people at one time. A $25 tasting will feature five wines and if you are a wine club member, you can pick up your shipments there.
Until recently, Chateau Montelena Winery was the only Napa-based winery with a second tasting room in the city. But recently Raymond Winery opened a tasting room at the Ritz Hotel. These are some of the best San Francisco wineries with direct Napa connections.
About the Author:
Allison is the owner of Please The Palate, a boutique agency specializing in marketing and event planning for the wine and spirits industry.
Allison has a Master's Degree in International Communications with a focus on cross-cultural training from the American University School of International Service. Allison is certified as an Italian Wine Specialist from the North American Sommelier Association and Level 2 WSET from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. As a Freelance Writer, she spends her time eating and drinking her way around the world.
Allison also writes for the Napa Valley Register, WineTouristMagazine.com and other outlets, in addition to her blog at Please The Palate; Twitter and Instagram @plsthepalate; Facebook: Please The Palate
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