Town Crier: Oakland tourism gets boost from wineries, hot restaurants

MONTCLARION: Sept 23, 2015

The words “urban” and “wine country” seem incompatible. But in Oakland, they not only go together, they grow together. It’s crush time in Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda — the cities that make up the East Bay Vintners Alliance ( Never has math been so satisfying.

More than 20 urban winemakers are taking delivery of 20,000 pounds each of pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grapes (to name a few varietals). In addition, more than 15,000 visitors have sipped some 10 million glasses of East Bay wines in the past year alone.

Zero in on Oakland, and the city has just unveiled its own Urban Wine Trail (, featuring 10 wineries along a walkable trail that’s accessible by public transportation. I’ll explore the wine trail this week and share what I find in my column. No thank-you is necessary — it’s my journalistic duty.

Radio dial: Oakland tourism is really taking off, driven in great part by destination restaurants. My colleague, Tom Wilmer, recently interviewed Visit Oakland’s Kim Bardakian and she told him the city is determined to stay authentic. “As much as Oakland is changing, it is not changing. We try and remain who we are. We have a little of that grit, that culture, mixed with music — we don’t want to get rid of that,” she says. Hear the whole interview at

Food trends: The latest culinary craze is to cook with as much of an animal as possible. Oakland’s Clove & Hoof ( has an entire herd being raised for the restaurant and butchery at Jenner Family Beef in Etna in Siskiyou County. The premium beef is dry-aged, then shipped to the restaurant — which also sells high-end cuts in its butcher case. Clove & Hoof has an Americana feel, with food like Mom used to make. But it’s not just about the lean and juicy burgers and pastrami Reubens. Chef-owners John Blevins and Analiesa Gosnell find creative uses for the bones (soup stock) and tallow (fries). And since they live nearby, the place restaurant is now open daily for lunch and dinner.

Around town: Spotted by readers — Growlers Arms has closed in the Glenview District. It’s a shame, knowing how much work the owners did to make this British restaurant and gastropub a warm and inviting place.

Email bag: Oakland’s seventh annual Volunteer Fair had a good turnout on Sept. 12. Reader Stan Weisner says 80 people of all ages signed up to work with Oakland youth in everything from mentoring to playground monitoring. If you missed the event and still want to help, it’s not too late. See

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at



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