Wine tasters have nose for East Bay vintage

Think your Chardonnay has an oaky aftertaste?  Try Oakland’s!  Wine connoisseurs may focus on the vines of Napa County when touring California, but this weekend one group of out-of-towners found out the East Bay has a few wineries of its own.

Hailing from as nearby as Davis, Calif., and as far away as Germany, six tourists climbed onto bicycles this Saturday to follow tour leader Jon Zalon around the waterfront of Oakland and onto the island of Alameda to visit three local wineries.

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“I was very happy to combine my enjoyment of biking with a few wine tastings,” said San Leandro resident Emily Strange. “The wineries are smaller, comfortable,” she said, and they have a “homier feeling.”

Zalon, who runs and owns East Bay Winery Bike Tours, said his business has been drawing interest since he began the rides in April. Designed to attract tourists staying across the bay in San Francisco as well as curious locals, the tours showcase the burgeoning wine business in Oakland. By the count of the East Bay Vintners’ Alliance, eight wineries offer tastings in Oakland, and even more operate in Alameda, Berkeley, and Emeryville.

Zalon is optimistic: “This is a market that’s just waiting to happen.”

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