Grafting Stories

Vine Graft builds wine experiences rooted in the telling of different stories about local, urban wines, producers or regions. These stories promise to connect, challenge, and engage customers on a personal level, helping them to form natural bonds with the wines they are exploring.

There are many small-production Californian winemakers out there whose voices as winemakers or the stories behind their wines simply don’t get enough attention. Of course, there is so much wine being produced in California that this is a natural challenge. At Vine Graft, we’re driven to explore producers who make wine that is local to a particular wine region in California, including (and with a special focus on) the San Francisco Bay Area. We are especially drawn to focus on urban produced wines or wine sold in an urban collectives.

With every producer we uncover that has every bit incredible wine as they do a unique story, we attempt to care for, and hone in on, core values that define the label and the folks who embody that label. It is our goal to share these values with customers while incorporating their own stories to create unforgettable wine experiences.

By focusing on the stories behind the wines and showing how they are applicable to consumers’ own lives, we believe that this helps them to speak more confidently and honestly about the wine as it relates to them. This engages folks on a far more personable level.

Storytelling is a powerfully connective tool that bridges gaps in society and fosters community. We hope to be story stewards for a long time.

Featured post

Applying the Old Ways to the Old Vine: Lusu Cellars

The evolution of an urban winery collective is curious to watch. While a collective can define an area over time, the initial one or two wineries popping up just don’t seem to quite justify the need for a name. This is why Broc Cellars and Donkey & Goat have, for some time, been the old kids on the nameless urban winery block in Berkeley, making wine in facilities that support their production and storage needs. But then more wineries move in and suddenly at four or five, you have a bonafide collective in your midst and names start to evolve around that area that will be inclusive enough to consider all the beverage neighbors in the area.

In the arena of food and drinks, North Berkeley is mutating into being known as The Drinks District or SoFo (South of Fourth Street). But at the heart of this area beats the ever revolving small wine facility at 805 Camelia. Since the 1970s, this facility has been used for winemaking, once being home to Broc and now shared between Eno and Lusu Cellars.

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From Goats to Grapes: La Clarine Farm

When we first had some of Hank and Caroline Beckmeyer’s wine, it was at the Seven % Solution tasting in San Francisco. Like Bryan Harrington‘s wine (another unique wine producer whose wines I love), their wines involved fascinating varietals in blends with grapes that tend to run on the bolder side, yet they were all so balanced and lean. Somehow, La Clarine‘s wines bring out flavors that you could never imagine might come forth from a certain varietal. Maybe it’s the soil. Maybe it’s the goats. Maybe it’s the elevation. Maybe it’s Hank and Caroline.

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In Resistance to the Unnatural: Donkey & Goat

I first had Donkey & Goat‘s wine a handful of years ago (probably in 2010) at a new release open house tasting at their facility in what is becoming known as the West Berkeley Drinks District. I remember their unfiltered whites and was very curious about them since I had not seen these at any other urban winery. Their space was also one of the first small urban wine facilities I had encountered and I recall having to squish between rows of barrels to get out to the back area where the tasting was. I was fascinated at how much was happening in such a small space. (I’m also just fascinated with small spaces in general. Yesterday I went to a great class on Portuguese wines (with a focus on the Douro and Dao regions) wines led by Evan Goldstein MS and learned that Portugal has the most varietals planted per square inch than any other country in the world. That means their entire country is basically planted to grapes!) Okay, I digress.

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It All Started with Rose: Urban Legend Cellars


Steve and Marilee often refer to themselves as “zen” winemakers while keeping an awareness of science close at hand.

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Small Steps, Elegant Wines: Wilderotter Vineyard


Jay and Maggie start with very small case productions each year to see if their own friends and family would continually support their winemaking efforts and it pays off. They sell out quickly each vintage, giving them the confidence to establish a winery.

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A Blend of Culture with Style: Noria Wines


Although winemaker Nori Nakamura does not own any of the vineyards he works with, he has, in a sense, inherited grapes from having worked at wineries he loves, making for a kind of Old World vineyard inheritance. That said, Nori does not jump around from vineyard to vineyard; he works consistently with the same vineyards to bring about the styles he desires.

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Just Below the Fog of Howell Mt: Burgess Cellars


Burgess packs a double high-quality fruit punch given that its fruit is mountain-side grown and develops in volcanic soil. No matter the varietal, every wine they produce has a distinctive flavor or texture that comes from the focus in their vineyards.

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Plowing New Paths: Trattore Farms


From tractors to olive trees, repurposing and cultivating the stories from the things that make up so much of California’s history in agriculture is celebrated at Trattore while built upon to reflect the past in a new light.

Continue reading “Plowing New Paths: Trattore Farms”

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