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Rubissow-Sargent Visit

The Wine Guide Visits...

Rubissow-Sargent Winery

Berkeley: March 28, 2004

Rubissow-Sargent is a collaboration of two families, and a working partnership between two locations. Winemaker Tony Sargent, a retired University of California Senior Scientist, felt it would be better to live and make wine in near his home, rather than drive the 50 miles to the Napa estate every day to tend the wines. Thus the two-location system was established with the Rubissows farming the Napa estate and the Sargents focusing on the winemaking in Berkeley.

The winery is open for tasting on Sundays only, from noon to 5pm & by appointment.The tasting room is operated by Ariel Rubissow-Okamoto, who is also the Vineyard Manager at the estate in Mt. Veeder.

You would never know this winery was there unless you were looking for it. The facility is in an industrial area of Berkeley, sandwiched between film production houses, fashion outlets, small industrial buildings, busy design studios and artisan ateliers. A small sign marks the place and Ariel puts out the a-frame 'open for tasting' sign on Sunday mornings. It's a neighborhood winery that locals frequent and many have been surprised to learn that there is one just around the corner. The entire space can't be more than a couple thousand square feet, and includes a small wine tasting bar. The stainless steel fermentation vats are just a few feet away as are the racks of barrels where the wine is aging. It also warehouse's what's left of the 2500+ cases that comprise their annual production.

Ariel is expecting us and gives us a brief tour explaining how crowded this small space can be during crush & bottling. But yet they manage to get it all done. After almost 20 years they have gotten it down to a science.

Rubissow-Sargent is not the only 'urban winery' in Berkeley, Grapeleaf Cellars is just a few blocks away and also offers tasting on the weekends. Audubon Cellars and Edmund St. John have Berkeley addresses as well, however they are not open for tasting.

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