Rock Wall Wine Company
North Coast AVA
Every wine has received terrific press and high competition scores
Any winery advertising a really excellent view of San Francisco had better refer to the new Rock Wall Winery located across San Francisco Bay in Alameda. Housed in a pair of ancient airplane hangars (the site was formerly the Alameda Naval Air Station), the winery is the latest wine project of the prestigious Rosenblum family, former owners of Rosenblum Cellars (of Zinfandel and Rhône varietal fame) also located in Alameda.
When Rosenblum Cellars was sold in February 2008, it was a gigantic 250,000-case entity. Owner Kent Rosenblum, who was known as “The King of Zin,” decided to start again on a much smaller scale and Rock Wall Wine Company was born. Rosenblum jumped at the chance to locate at the aging former military facility with its unparalleled view of San Francisco’s marvelous shore and skyline.
Work began in August of 2008 and Rosenblum’s daughter, Shauna, was soon caught up in the enthusiasm of the new project.
“I had grown up around the family winery and worked every job possible,” she admitted. “At two years old, I could do certain jobs. Even though I went to college and my degrees are in fine arts and ceramics, there is a kinship between the chemistry involved in the wine business and that required for a ceramics degree.”
“There was so much energy involved in renovating the hangars and getting the place fitted to be a winery, I was soon caught up in the emotion. Whenever something came up, my father asked if I could do it. When it was all finish, he asked me if I wanted to stay involved. He already knew what my answer would be.”
Shauna Rosenblum became the winemaker as well as the face for Rock Wall Wine Company. By the way, the ‘Rock Wall’ tag refers to the rock border that surrounds the entire Alameda base site, built during WWII to protect the base from Japanese torpedoes that never materialized. It is a scenic addition to the area as well as a wonderful source of old folklore and the like.
Rock Wall Wine Company’s first release came in 2009, almost 2,000 cases of mostly Zinfandel and other odd-ball varietals according to Rosenblum. “We are already up to almost 12,000 cases and we utilized fruit from 39 different sources,” she explained. “These sources are located all the way from Soledad in the south to Mendocino in the north, practically all of wine-producing California.”
And, concerning the winery’s almost instant success, “We really weren’t prepared for the recognition we have experienced so far. We have had so much fun and I am surrounded by so many great people with extremely high energy levels. Around here, we believe that all this love and energy have been somehow transmitted to our wines. It has allowed for our rapid expansion.”
That development has also been fueled by some terrific press and competition scores, making Rock Wall Wine Company one of the great recent success stories in the California wine business.
“We want to continue producing wines in small quantities (about 800 to 900 cases per varietal). We want the wines to be really unpretentious, yet awesome in their own right. We have a great mixture of Zinfandel, Rhône varietals, and some wonderful Italian varietals to work with, and the wine drinking public seems to like just about everything we have made,” commented Rosenblum.
“We are also extremely proud of our new tasting facility,” she added. “It is a geodetic dome located at the tip of Alameda with an incomparable view that is only minutes from the ferry that connects us to San Francisco. For people with a limited time in San Francisco who want to visit a winery, the ferry ride over is almost magical.”
Sadly, Kent Rosenblum passed away in September 2018. For Kent, making wine was always about a willingness to explore viticultural regions and experiment with winemaking techniques, which is the legacy he has passed on to his daughter. Today, Shauna heads up the cellar at the family venture and she continues to make Rock Wall Wine Co. all about having fun while making the best wines from the best regions, and sharing the experience with others. As her father was always fond of saying, “Never underestimate the value of a little fun.”
Shauna Rosenblum is that rarest of individuals whose compassion and enthusiasm dictate a sure winner. Her winery is well on its way to taking its place among the emerging pearls of the boutique industry that offers engaging wines and an even more compelling story behind the wines. It will be interesting to follow the development of Rock Wall Wine Company and its myriad of enjoyable wines. Wineries like this one make drinking wine all the more fun and enjoyable.
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
My name is Shauna Rosenblum, and I am the Winemaker for Rock Wall Wine Co. Rock Wall is a second-generation winery within the Rosenblum Family.
My father, Kent Rosenblum, was deemed the “Godfather of Zinfandel,” and I learned everything I know about making Zin from him. My dad waited on a waiting list for nine years in the 1990’s before being awarded the opportunity to purchase Monte Rosso fruit. Once he made it to the front of the line, he started making some delicious wine from the site.
In 2008, my family sold Rosenblum Cellars to Diageo, and we started our new winery, Rock Wall Wine Co. The Gallo family had purchased the Monte Rosso site by then, and they were generous enough to honor our familial ties, and they awarded me the same block of fruit my Dad used to buy from Monte Rosso.
My Dad and I started this winery as a partnership. I would make the wine, and Dad would be my volunteer CEO, and run around the country, skiing and selling wine. The 2018 harvest marks my 11th vintage as Winemaker for Rock Wall.
As some of you may know, my amazing father passed away on September 5, 2018. My Dad was generous with everyone he met. He treated everyone as an equal. He loved his family, his friends, animals, skiing, gardening, kayaking, making and drinking wine, making pizza, BBQ’ing for his loved ones, and of course, telling Sven and Ole jokes.
In so many ways, this wine epitomizes the history of California viticulture which never would have been the same without Kent Rosenblum. That said, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to present to you this elegant and focused Zinfandel form the esteemed Monte Rosso Vineyard site. I build this wine to age a bit, so either lay this puppy down for a year or five, or if you’re like me and want to try it now, I recommend decanting.
If you find yourself in the Bay Area, please come by and visit our awesome winery location on the former Alameda Naval Air Base. I look forward to clinking glasses with you soon.
All my very best,
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members
I grew up a “cellar rat” in Alameda on the site of what would become my Dad, Kent Rosenblum’s, Zinfandel empire namesake, Rosenblum Cellars. Always hanging out with my winemaker parents, I was a precocious little sponge. By the age of 2, I was demanding to smell tank samples from other wineries I visited with my family. By the age of 3, I was helping Dad taste and check brix (sugar) levels in the grapes at our vineyard. By the age of 10, I was working on the bottling line, and helping in the cellar; and by the age of 15, I would sit in on blends done by Dad, and his assistant winemakers.
Dad and Mom always told me that I should do whatever I was passionate about, so I attended undergraduate and masters studies in ceramics and sculpture. During my ceramics degree, I had to take several semesters of chemistry, which felt very familiar and natural to me because I’d been involved in the application of it for my whole life at the winery. This was the “light bulb” that winemaking really was an amazing art, and that’s what I wanted to do.
In 2008, my family sold Rosenblum Cellars, and started Rock Wall Wine Company. Dad says that my enthusiasm for winemaking was apparent through the dedicated hours and love I put into Rock Wall’s first harvest. By the end of harvest, it was evident that not only was I in love with what I was doing, but I was a natural at it from my life-long installation of winemaking experience. At the end of that harvest, Dad named me Winemaker!
Since then, our wines have been garnering many Gold Medals, Double Gold Medals, Best of Shows, and even the accolade of “Best Zinfandel in California” from the California State Fair in Sacramento!
By the way, the “Best Zinfandel in California” is the Zinfandel Reserve you have in this shipment!
Cheers and a Prosperous New Year to All!