Neighborhood Vineyards Is Making Locavore Wine in Bernal Heights


Oh hey. Did you some folks are growing grapes and making wine in Bernal Heights? Well, it’s happening: Some folks are growing grapes and making wine in Bernal Heights, at America’s first urban vineyard.

Neighbor and celebrity wineblogger Alder Yarrow  pointed us toward this recent Chronicle article about Neighborhood Vineyards at Alemany Farm:

I found myself walking through dense rows of headstaked Pinot vines on an otherwise weedy hill just west of the Alemany Farmers’ Market, squeezed above a block of public housing and below a row of modern Bernal Heights townhomes. Hartshorn set out an old knit blanket and poured me a glass of Albariño.

Her vineyard dreams began in France, where she went in 2009 with hopes of becoming a cheesemaker. That plan fizzled, not least because she realized her social life in rural France mostly involved playing petanque with septuagenarians.

After some wine marketing work in France, she returned to California in 2012, but not before she had visited Clos Montmartre, the tiny vineyard planted on Paris’ outskirts. Hartshorn loved the notion of thousands of Parisians coming to help with the mostly symbolic harvest. It wasn’t about the wine; it was an affirmation of wine’s cultural importance. Could San Francisco, as much a spiritual wine capital as Paris, have something similar?

Well, you can probably guess the answer to that question. Watch this video about Neighborhood Vineyards to see how they planted their 349 pinot noir vines right here in the glamorous terroir of Bernal Heights:

Want to visit? There’s a special guest talk and wine tasting happening this Sunday, August 15.

PHOTOS: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Saturday: Volunteers Needed to Restore Esmeralda Mini-Park



Work is now underway to restore and rebuild the Esmeralda Mini-Park, with much thanks due to Neighbors Nancy and Joan, who are wrangling the City bureaucracy to ensure that the project is done right. There’s much to be done, so in the grandest and most historic Bernalese tradition, Nancy and Joan are organizing a Neighborly Volunteer Work Day  this Saturday, August 8 to get stuff done:

The Department of Public Works has agreed to rebuild the planter box, trellis, benches and picnic table!

It’s taken a lot of time and effort to get the City to do this rebuild.The planter box and trellis are being rebuilt on site, the benches and picnic table are gone for now but will be replaced with new wood and a fresh paint job soon.

A volunteer workday is happening on August 8 in District 9. As part of the District, we have the opportunity to get tools, supplies and even a carpenter from the City to help us do more work in the Esmeralda Slide Park than the City can do on its own. The Park has been in need of repairs for years. It’s heavily used, not only as a thoroughfare to Bernal Hill, but also as a gathering place with a fabulous slide!

We have assured the City we are an active, dedicated community who will show up to volunteer for the WorkDay in order to aid the City in its effort to upgrade the Esmeralda Slide Park between Winfield St. and Prospect Ave.

Please join us to help with painting, carpentry, planting, and general clean up at Esmeralda and Winfield

Come to the Volunteer Work Day!
(aka, Community CleanTeam Day)

August 8 — 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Please RSVP to Joan Carson by August 4
and note whether you want to help with construction, painting or general clean up.

Wear comfortable clothes so you can “get down and dirty”. The City will supply tools and lunch.

We are creating an email list to keep you informed in case you want to participate in future enhancements to the Esmeralda Slide Park.


PHOTOS: Esmeralda Mini-Park in on Aug. 2, 2015, and Esmeralda Slide Work Crew, 1978

Sporty New Sutro Tower Tote Was Born In Bernal (And For You, Special Price)

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Brook McLeod commutes to work in Bernal Heights from the neighboring hills of Potrero, but her roots here run deep, and prolonged exposure to Bernalese culture has given her a keen sense of our locavore style and funky-functional aesthetic. The ways of our people have rubbed off on her to such an extent that she’s even started a new company called Wool Street (Note: Bernal-born name) to produce cool urban accessories. And as a Citizen of Bernalwood, you get a discount.

Brook tells us:

Wool Street was birthed in Bernal, where a sense of supporting local businesses and neighbors is a way of life.

This idea of a soft goods line made in the USA and if all possible in the future made completely in San Francisco came to me when I was living in a cottage on Wool Street. My husband, Dave was born and raised in Bernal Heights, and after we both graduated from CCAC (California College of Arts & Crafts) we moved back to his beloved hood. I quickly felt right at home with its small town vibe -I’m originally from a town of 2500 people in southeastern Washington- and I instantly wanted to be a part of the BH.

I worked at Heartfelt for nearly 5 years behind the scenes, learning how a successful small business ran, and left only last year to pursue my own small business dreams. I also had the opportunity to help the Bernal Library Art Project (BLAP) with phase III of their initiative to put art up on the Bernal Library. Through BLAP I got to meet more quirky, interesting, and influential neighbors that help in making Bernal Heights what it really is…awesome! We now live in Potrero Hill but I’m continuing to work part-time at the New Wheel with Brett, Karen & the gang, so I can still get my Bernal fix every week.

Without further ado I wanted to introduce Wool Street’s debut product: the Sutro Tower Canvas Tote, made in San Francisco-Woot!

Although I know it’s not the infamous Sutrito, I wanted to extend a discount to all Bernalwood lovers for $5 OFF with promo code BERNAL to apply at checkout. Please take a peek and check back for more products soon.

PHOTOS: Wool Street

Dispute Unsettled, but Bocana Neighbor Departs Home After Huge Rent Increase



Yesterday was a sad moving day for Neighbor Deb Follingstad, who had to leave her home at 355 Bocana after receiving a now-infamous 315% rent increase notice from the landlord, Neighbor Nadia Llama.

ABC7 updated the story last Friday:

Follingstad’s home is understandably a mess since the May 5 deadline to move is just days away. She says leaving her home of 10 years hurts. She explained to 7 On Your Side, “It’s so painful and I’ve had to uproot my life in a month.”

A move out sale Follingstad held attracted a steady stream of people. Until she finds a place to live, she plans to couch surf and house sit. Beyond that, her future is murky.

“I don’t know anymore. I can’t afford to live here. A lot of my friends can’t afford to live here and it’s pretty heartbreaking the way the city’s changing,” Follingstad said.

The home is registered as a single family home and the landlord believes it’s not covered by rent control laws.

Tenants rights attorney Joe Tobener calls this eviction by rent increase. He said, “It’s an easy way for landlords to try to get tenants out, to increase the rent.”

Tobener plans to file a lawsuit on Follingstad’s behalf. He is charging landlord Nadia Llama with wrongful eviction.

PHOTO: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, Neighbor Deb Follingstad via ABC7

Lost Bernal Dog Navigates to Familiar Mission District Bar


If you were tuned in to Bernalwood’s social media channels yesterday, you may have seen the appeal to help find Luna, a Bernal Heights dog who escaped from a caregiver’s yard in the Panhandle while her owner was out of town traveling. A frantic search effort was undertaken, and there were reports that Luna had been seen along the Embarcadero and in the Mission.

Happily, Luna was found late yesterday afternoon after wandering in to a familiar watering hole. Cassie tells Bernalwood:

Thanks so much for posting about the dog. Luna was found yesterday evening at a bar in the Mission called The Sycamore that her owners frequent. Smart pup. She was reunited with her owner last night. We can’t believe it and are so relieved.

Clever drinky doggy indeed. Whew!

PHOTO: Luna, once lost, now found

Tonight: Earth Day Party and Benefit at Succulence


Let’s take a moment to marvel at the shrewd foresight of Succulence, the plant and lifestyle-decor store at 402 Cortland opened by Ken and Amy Shelf after they rather gracefully transitioned from running Four Star Video.

Today, Succulence specializes in selling lovely, low-water succulents and mysterious air plants that seem to survive on little more than sunlight and unicorn vapor. Which is to say, Succulence made drought-tolerant gardening look sexy long before it was cool (and state-mandated).

Now, to celebrate Earth Day, Ken says Succulence will host a special celebration at the store tonight… and you’re a guest of honor. Ken says:

We are having an Earth Day party at Succulence on April 23 from 6-9 pm. The entire day will also be a benefit for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center – 10% of all proceeds will be donated to them.

We are having a special night at the shop. We will be serving free drinks and food (mojitos, pork sliders from Cathead’s BBQ , pastries from Little Bee Bakery, cheese & crackers) and providing live entertainment with three bands playing (including mine at 8:30pm).

It is a free event to thank everyone for the patronage of our business.

Here is a link to our invite and email. Please come if you are free! I’d love to get a chance to drink a toast to our marvelous planet together.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Succulence