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

10 thoughts on “Neighborhood Vineyards Is Making Locavore Wine in Bernal Heights

  1. Mother liked her white wine when she was alive
    She was desperate to live
    But her limit was five

    — LWIII “White Winos”

  2. With a shortage of water and a shortage of housing, this is the last thing that Bernal Heights needs.

  3. Part of me agrees with Gina: come on. Gardens are one thing, but keeping farmland in a city with a housing crunch is absurd.

    The other part of me, of course, really wants to try the pinot.

  4. I heard that Bryan Harrington of Harrington Wine used to grow Pinot Noir grapes on the hill before moving to Berkeley, but can’t confirm that. Does anyone else know?

    Also, plenty of longtime Italian families on the hill will tell you about their own backyard bootleg wine operations!

  5. When I used to live in Noe Valley, on Sanchez st at Valley, we found a pretty interesting discovery during a remodel. It was prohibition era documents allowing the Italian American family who used to reside there to legally produce X amount of wine for personal consumption. I forgot what the amount was. It was a certain number of gallons. Anyway, the paperwork showed that they always produced juuuusst a little less than the maximum permitted. I had them framed and left them with the house when we ultimately sold the place.

  6. I think this is wonderful on many levels, and while I sort of see Gina’s point about land use, I think it is more irresponsible to pave and build on every square inch of our City. We have a lovely, green City – it’s what makes SF such an amazing place to live! Let’s find ways keep that, and house people. I do have a few questions, maybe someone can answer?

    1) Did anyone test the soil prior to planting? Lead levels would be my concern.
    2) Are they involving the neighborhood, especially the very inhabitants of the public housing next door?

    Wishing them well on this endeavor. 🙂

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