There’s a long history of activism in Berkeley, California, from the 1964 UC Berkeley sit-in that started the Free Speech Movement, to student campaigns against apartheid in South Africa during the ’80s. Now, this city just across the bay from San Francisco is in the midst of another revolution. This time, it’s wine.
Not far from where Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse and changed national conversations about farm to-table cooking, the Gilman District is home to Berkeley’s thriving natural wine movement. With eight wineries across slightly more than one square block, it could be the largest concentration of low-interference winemaking in America.
Though there’s been winemaking in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, many credit the push toward natural wine to Donkey & Goat Winery, started by Jared and Tracey Brandt in San Francisco in 2004. At the time, “natural wine” wasn’t a commonly used term in the U.S., Tracey says. “When we decided to move to France and learn how to make wine, we weren’t interested in conventional winemaking.”