winery collective

The sensory experience of going wine tasting at Winery Collective snags on the edges of thought. Lush, green hills, mineral pools and stretches of vines garlanding the horizon come to mind. But sometimes such an ultra-glamorous mise-en-scène can take place in the city, just inches away from pigeons, grotty alleyways and pollution. Winery Collective is one example of a successful conversion from Gotham to sanctuary. If wine is the nectar of the gods, then this is a reverent variation on a modern Mount Olympus if it were having a block party.

The Winery Collective takes the grape out of its natural environment, and the transfer is a verdant one. One doesn’t really require a vineyard’s visual éclat in order to take in a similar atmosphere.

An assortment of small winemakers from across California are dedicated to producing handcrafted artisanal bottles. Wine enthusiasts congregate at hosted tastings (of more 50 wines from more than two dozen small wineries). It’s a place for sipping, meeting the winemakers, and sampling the Sideways experience without having to shuttle around Wine Country’s tangled roads.

Some of the wineries participating: Viader Vineyards and Winery, August West; Blue Cellars; Sol Rouge; Canihan Family Cellars; and Twisted Oak Winery (Calaveras County).

The wines themselves are the most fascinating element: they’re actually good. Whether or not they start mingling with their rural brethren remains to be seen, but we defy you to spot the differences at first pour.

“Winemaking is magic,” says one area winemaker. “Although the process is somewhat understood, there is something very personal and very rewarding about squishing some grapes, turning it into wine, and then sharing this with the world. Until you’ve done it, it seems like some abstract thing that you could never do well. Once you’ve done it, you can’t imagine not doing it. This is a warning – Winemaking is Addictive.”

The drinking isn’t easy to kick, either.

Where: 485 Jefferson Street, San Francisco, CA

When: Open Daily, Sun-Thu 1p-8p & Fri-Sat 12p-9p