Broc Cellars Review
Address: 1300 Fifth Street Berkeley,California 94710.
Phone Number: 510-542-9463
Tasting Hours: Sat-Sun 1:00-5:00
Reviewer: Martin D. Redmond
Review Date: 3/26/2016
Reviewer: Martin D. Redmond
Broc Cellars is an urban winery located in Berkeley, California. The owner/winemaker is Chris Brockway. Chris grew up in Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska where he majored in Philosophy. After college, he worked in restaurants back home before moving to Seattle, Washington. Thats where he began to take a serious interest in wine. He decided to move to California to pursue a career in winemaking. He took classes at UC Davis but transitioned to Cal State Fresno where he studied both winemaking and viticulture and earned his second degree in enology in 2002. After graduating, he moved to the Bay Area, where learned the basics of winemaking at a couple of local wineries.
As is so often the case with winemakers, he made his own wine, even as he maintained his day job working elsewhere. He made a barrel of wine in 2002, and his first legal batch in 2004 before striking out on his own.
Brockway, a minimalist, produces the most natural wines he can. Grapes are sourced only from sustainably, organically, or biodynamically-farmed California vineyards. Grapes are pitchforked whole-cluster into the fermenters, and fermentation is allowed to happen spontaneously in a blend of old wood barrels, steel tanks, and concrete. All wines are basket pressed with little/no sulphur used until bottling.
Broc crafts a diverse array of wines, including several that would be considered unusual by most wine drinkers. For example, his current releases include a Sparkling Chenin Blanc and varietal bottlings of Picpoul, Counoise, and Valdiguié. While the Broc roster of wine is as diverse as his vineyard sources, the character that the wines all share is expressing a sense of place. And all are dry, lively, low-alcohol, moreish, and well-crafted!
The winery is located on a corner in an industrial park of Berkeley. The tasting room has an industrial chic feel. Once inside my eyes were immediately drawn to the long wooden tasting bar and the unique, hauntingly beautiful, torched wooden wall treatment that offers a beautiful counterpoint to the concrete floors.
On the day we visited, the tasting room was slow, so we virtually had the place to ourselves. The tasting room attendant was friendly and knowledgeable as she guided us through the tasting. The tasting menu the day we visited included the five wines; a white wine, a blush, and three red wines:
· 2014 Love White A blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier with aromas of peach and melon. On the palate, its very fresh with baked peach melon, spice, and a hint of minerality. 13% alcohol
· 2015 White Zinfandel Definitely not your mothers overly sweet confected White Zin. This one is dry and delightful with cherry, raspberry, spice and mild, wet stone aromas. On the palate, its light-bodied and fresh with cherry, a bit of raspberry, and spice. 11.5% alcohol
· 2014 Vine Star Zinfandel The fruit for this wine comes from the same duo of organically farmed vineyards in Sonoma Valley (Arrowhead), and the Russian River Valley (Buckhill) as the white Zinfandel above. It was a treat to taste the two different wines sourced from the same vineyards; just picked at different times. This wine shows promising cherry skin, raspberry, and spice aromas. Its light-bodied and fresh with black cherry and red currant flavors and an appealing touch of minerality.
· 2014 Counoise Counoise is a red Rhone grape variety primarily used for blending. Its seldom bottled as a varietal wine. This one is sourced from the Eaglepoint Ranch in the Mayacamas Mountain range in Mendocino County. Its delightful, with cherry, strawberry, spice and a hint of mineral aromas. On the palate, it is medium-bodied and persistent with a supple texture and very good acidity. Black cherry and strawberry flavors are followed by a peppery finish. 13% alcohol
· 2014 Carignane A field blend that includes a bit of Palomino and Alicante, this wine is produced using carbonic maceration, a technique traditionally associated with Beaujolais that yields lighter, fruitier and more approachable wine. This one is fabulous. It shows cherry, strawberry, and rose aromas. On the palate, its dry, persistent, and very fresh with cherry, strawberry, and vanilla flavors. 12.8% alcohol
There are a couple of other wineries within easy walking distance Donkey and Goat and the co-located Eno Wines and Lusu Cellars. And if youre thirsty for more, and want to try something different, head over to The Mead Kitchen, (an easy 10 minute drive away) where mead is being crafted in small batches from locally sourced honey. Oh, and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants is less than a mile away!