Get to Know Alameda’s Spirits Alley
Glimpses of San Francisco skyline greet those sipping and tripping around for wine, spirits, and brew with a view.
Top photo by Myles Fenwick; bottom by Lori Eanes
Let’s get something straight: Spirits Alley should not be conquered in one day. Unless, of course, you have copious amounts of time on your hands, a personal driver, and a liver made of steel. An eclectic cluster of artisan distilleries and tasting rooms lining Monarch Street on the former Alameda Naval Air Station, Spirits Alley is meant to be savored and is far easier to navigate in several small flights.
Now known as Alameda Point, it is undergoing considerable transition and redevelopment, and the Spirits Alley appellation pays homage to the ghosts of the area’s past and recognizes a new transformation to a wine, beer, and spirits destination. It is also the home of two nonalcoholic beverage wholesalers, Alameda Point Craft Beverage and Brix.
Whichever way you choose to divide your visits — by sections, beverage categories, or tour availability — you’ll have full access to views of the San Francisco skyline and the Port of Oakland, as well as some tasty grub from nearby food trucks or the notable Scolari’s At The Point, which serves epicure-approved noshes. Here’s a list of the wineries, breweries, and distilleries at Spirits Alley.
Building 43 Winery
Building 43 Winery specializes in handcrafted, sustainable, small-batch varietals from the Sierra foothills. The tasting room is housed in a refurbished historic Naval Aviation EOD Locker and is adorned with wine barrels, metal works, and military memorabilia. From petite syrah to cabernet franc, merlot to viognier, winemaker Tod Hickman knows his way around red varietals. Stop in during tasting room hours or book a tasting online. Open Friday through Sunday. Dog friendly. 2440 Monarch St, Alameda, 510-263-0399, Building43Winery.com.
This pioneering winery made its first zinfandel back in 1996. After 15 years in Jack London Square — a risqué location at the time — Michael and Anne Dashe recently jumped the estuary to Spirits Alley, where they now share a building with Urban Legend Cellars. Their expansive tasting room sits amid the working winery. In addition to its award-winning zins, Dashe makes a number of other reds, whites and rosés. Grapes are sourced from small growers in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, Mendocino County’s Alexander and Potter valleys, and beyond. Open Thursday through Sunday. Dog-friendly; kids welcome outdoors. 1951 Monarch St., Alameda, 510-452-1800, DasheCellars.com.
Rock Wall Wine Company
Founded in 2008, Rock Wall is part of a burgeoning winemaking scene in the Bay Area. Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum learned to make wine from her father, Kent Rosenblum, founder of Rosenblum Cellars. Open seven days a week, the tasting room boasts a full-service chef’s kitchen and a 3,000-square-foot geodesic dome. With stunning views of the San Francisco skyline, visitors can taste and purchase a range of wines including zinfandel, petite syrah, Montepulciano, syrah, and chardonnay, to name a few. Group tastings are available by reservation. Kids are welcome in the outdoor seating area. 2301 Monarch St., Alameda, 510-522-5700, RockWallWines.com.
Urban Legend Cellars
Urban Legend owners Marilee and Steve Shaffer are in the business of redefining terroir. They craft more than a dozen wines that celebrate the unique flavors of California and their East Bay home. From a Russian River Valley pinot noir, a zinfandel-petite syrah blend, to vermentino and granache blanc, the Shaffers have a strong grasp on wines with uncompromising balance and elegance. Visit their new tasting room and taste for yourself. Open Thursday through Sunday. Kid and dog friendly. 1951 Monarch St., Bldg. 25, Alameda, 510-545-4356, ULCellars.com.
Almanac Beer Co.
Founded in 2010, Almanac produces farm-to-table beers in small batches, using fruit, grains, and herbs purchased from local family farms in Northern California. Visit the Alameda Barrel House, Brewery & Taproom, which features an indoor beer hall and outdoor beer garden overlooking the bay. Sample a range of barrel-aged to fresh beers brewed on-site with groovy names like Vibes Pilsner, Love Hazy IPA, Sunshine & Opportunity, and Tropical Galaxy. Open seven days a week. Kid and dog friendly. 651 W. Tower Ave., Alameda, 415-992-3438, AlmanacBeer.com.
Rodger Davis and Claudia Pamparana opened Faction Brewing, a 20-barrel brew house, in 2013. The owners are particularly smitten with hoppy beers but produce a wide range of brews including lagers, stouts, Belgian-style beers, barrel-aged beers, and the occasional sour. Faction’s warehouse walls are adorned with several stunning floor-to-ceiling murals, which preside over an indoor seating area lined with pinball and skee ball machines for the young or young at heart. Choose from 20-plus beers on draft in the tasting room to enjoy inside or outside on the large patio with stellar views of the bay and the San Francisco skyline. Food trucks are on site. Open Wednesday through Sunday. Kids are welcome throughout the premises and dogs are welcome on the patio. 2501 Monarch St., Alameda, 510-523-2739, FactionBrewing.com.
The Rake at Admiral Maltings
Admiral Maltings was founded by longtime San Francisco brewing industry veterans Ron Silberstein of ThirstyBear Brewing Company and Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewing Company along with partner Curtis Davenport, who has an extensive background in organic farming and small-batch malting. They partner with California farmers to source quality grain and produce exceptional hand-crafted malt, a building block for beer and whiskey — and may one day sell spirits in the pub. The malthouse is situated in a 20,000-square-foot former World War II-era naval dry goods facility. Overlooking the malting floor, The Rake is the onsite pub that features 20-plus draft and cask beers brewed with the malt, as well as a brew-friendly menu. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Kids are welcome throughout the premises and dogs are welcome on the patio. 5047, 651A W. Tower Ave., Alameda, 510-666-6419, AdmiralMaltings.com.
Hangar 1 Vodka
In a WWII-era hangar and founded in 2002, Hangar 1 produces a range of straight, flavored, infused, and barrel-aged vodkas. Distiller Caley Shoemaker oversees all phases of production. A self-described “spirits nerd,” Caley is fascinated by how the chemistry of distilling affects the quality, texture, and flavor of the final product and is inspired by the abundance of seasonal ingredients in the Bay Area. Hangar 1 offers several distillery tours, which can be booked online including two tasting flight tours, cheese and chocolate pairings, as well as a cocktail making class. Open Wednesday through Sunday. 2505 Monarch St., Alameda, 510-871-4950, HangarOne.com.
St. George Spirits
Founded in 1982, St. George Spirits has grown from a one-man operation to a diverse and passionate team that produces a broad range of craft spirits. In a 65,000-square-foot hangar with an impressive view of the Port of Oakland, the distillery boasts an attractive tasting room, laboratory, a lineup of remarkable copper stills, and indoor and outdoor seating. St. George produces a range of artisan gins, vodkas, whiskey, brandies, liqueurs, and other spirits. Distillery tours and guided tastings can be booked online. General tastings are offered Thursday through Sunday. Well-behaved canines on leash are welcome on the patio. 2601 Monarch St, Alameda, 510-769-1601, StGeorgeSpirits.com.
Operating hours and tour schedules available on company websites.