If we're being honest with ourselves, wine has a cultural stigma that it's still trying to shake. It can feel intimidating, exclusionary, and reserved only for those with "refined sensibilities" or whatever advertisers say. No doubt, that stigma is starting to dissolve as young sommeliers (and the internet) make wine education and discovery more accessible. But there is the lingering question for many, "Is it for me?".
Luckily, there is no shortage of people eager to break right through that crumbling, tired mold.
Asked why Oakland has been the perfect home for her ambitious wine event, Melody Fuller - founder of the Oakland Wine Festival - had a response that underscores both the city AND wine culture as a whole : "It is my way of pushing the narrative beyond the fading stereotypes of what Oakland is and who her people are".
"Oakland residents and the Greater Bay Area residents provide tremendous support to the Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries. A part of me, being a proud Oakland native, wanted to create a way to let the world know about that", she explains further.
Melody's festival ain't no joke...and far from it. As a testament to that tremendous support, she's backed by winemakers of some of the world's best grapes - Silverado, Rombauer, and Opus One to name a few. Those three alone would be worth investing an afternoon in red and white juice consumption.
However, it's not just the Oakland Wine Festival's location that intends to plow through barriers. The event's Judgment of Oakland, a repurposed version of the legendary Judgment of Paris blind tasting, brings the entire spectrum of grape lovers into the same room, drinking the same wine and rating them the same way.
"The Judgement of Oakland invites wine enthusiasts, novices, buyers, sommeliers, winemakers, winery owners and the curious to taste and privately rank the wines by voting", Melody enthusiastically declares. "It's a rare experience that only select professionals have enjoyed for centuries worldwide".
If getting wine owners, makers, and hobbyists together IRL to taste world-class vino from around the globe isn't a catalyst to community building, then we're certainly doing it wrong.
Can't swing to this year's event? Get a taste of prime Napa Valley with the 2013 Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon.