Friday, November 24, 2006

Periscope Cellars

“Hey Dad I just found out there’s a winery in my building and I’ve set up a meeting for your blog”. My daughter lives in an old industrial building in Emeryville that has been partially turned into lofts. The back part of the building is still very much commercial. While walking her dog she noticed a bunch of guys rolling large oak barrels onto the loading dock, to be used in the wine making process. A conversation and emails ensued and the deal was sealed.

I try to stay away from blogging about wine. Not that I don’t like wine, it’s just that the subject gets so serious and snobby sometimes. My philosophy about wine is drink it often and in copious amounts. Between generous relatives’ wine collections, and employers who’ve paid for wine training classes, I’ve been fortunate to taste and enjoy some of California’s best vintages. Having lived in the Bay Area for a long time I remember when Napa and Sonoma wines didn’t cost the price of a car payment. Lately I limit my wine purchases to Trader Joe’s bargain section.

With some uneasiness I prepared for my meeting with the winemaker. It didn’t help my confidence level when the Chronicle wine section did an in depth article about the East Bay wine scene that included the very guy that I’m going to meet. Will he be serious and snobby?

On the appointed day we finally meet Brendan Eliason, owner /winemaker of Periscope Cellars. While having serious credentials and experience he is far from snobby. Brian seems part guy next door, part artist and part mad scientist. He is generous to a fault with his time and seems extremely happy to be doing his wine thing.

The surroundings are certainly not like the palatial settings of the North Counties, more like a big old military bunker. It is a pleasant learning experience. What did I learn? The name Periscope Cellars comes from the fact that submarines or parts thereof were repaired in this building. The walls are many inches thick and made of the most heavy duty concrete. I learn that the first Top Chef was filmed here and that Brian has a lot of really cool set pieces from the program. But most of all, I learned that the wine thief is my friend. A wine thief is a long tube device that allows you to extract wine from the barrel. Thief we did and tasted the components of Brian’s creations. It seems the winemaker likes to blend, and blend he does well in Deep Six, his newest vintage. Smooth and easy to drink; it was a big hit on Thanksgiving Day. Even those amongst us who don’t normally drink red enjoyed.

Brian is attempting to jump through the bureaucratic hurdles necessary to open a tasting room in the building. Until that time, his wine is available online at Periscope Cellars.

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Wine Thief is my friend

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In the barrel

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In the bottle


Mona said...

Greg, that is so great. How nice of your daughter! Although I'm sure you were a little hesitant at the beginning. I am totally going to Periscope's website. I love your wine credo. That's about how I look at it : often and copious. If I ever open up a winery it'll be called O&C and I'll share the profits with you.

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