This Saturday KD, GGD and I went to the opening party for a new urban winery in San Francisco called Tank18. The event got a lot of press in SF online pubs (SF Eater, UrbanDaddy, GrubStreet) so we figured it would draw a big crowd, especially since Tank18 was promoting their special $8.00 refills of their wine if you BYOB (bring your own bottle). We decided to get there early, around 11am, so that we could avoid the crowds and fill up our bottles before the line got too long; it’s a good thing we did because by the time we left people were clamoring for our seats.
The warehouse-like space has been restored from what used to be a fabric manufacturing facility. Sticking with their sustainable vibe, they have created furniture using old wine pallets, schoolhouse stools, and wine bottles and barrels. The walls have been painted over to serve as a chalkboard, where they list the current wines and prices, as well as other special offers and happenings. They have built their bottling system in the back, where you can fill as many empty bottles as you can carry with their wine offering of the month for only $8.00 per bottle ($10.00 if you need to borrow one of their bottles).
I brought five empty bottles with me, and they graciously filled each one with their 2009 Zinfandel, and let me take photos and video of the process. They suggested letting the wine sit, standing up, for at least a week before opening to drink. But they did let us sample some of the wine that had been previously bottled and it was delicious! Very smooth for a Zinfandel, and a lot of good fruit on the nose.
After we took care of our BYOB business, we selected a comfortable booth to settle in for the afternoon. KD and I shared a flight of their current offerings at the bar, where resident pourer Tony gave us heavy-handed tastes while he told us where each wine came from. All the juice is sourced from various parts of California, including Napa, Sonoma, Russian River and El Dorado. I particularly enjoyed the Tempranillo and Meritage (which was already sold out!), but I found the Pinot Noir to be a little too fruity. The Cabernet showed promise for the future, but was a little tight as it was only recently bottled. We decided to head back to our cozy booth with two glasses of Tempranillo, in anticipation to pair with the Paella that was being served up in the adjacent alleyway.
Speaking of the Paella… wow. We were informed by the owner of Tank18 that the guy out back making Paella was in fact Gerard Nebesky, who famously beat out Bobby Flay in a Paella Throwdown. We were among the first to get our plates filled once the mussels had opened. Gerard gave us a hefty portion of his Paella, including rice, shrimp, peppers, green beans, sausage, chicken and mussels. The flavors were delicious and the chicken was so tender. I don’t normally like chicken in my Paella, but this was perfect! And the Tempranillo pairing was spot on, with the smokiness of the wine matching the spice in the saffron. I will try to recreate Gerard’s Paella some day (once KD purchases a Paella pan), but for now I will try to track his food truck around the city.
I learned from the owner of Tank18 that they will be offering monthly BYOB events (featuring a different wine each month), accompanied by various food trucks and merchants of the Bay Area. They can also host private events for up to 250 people, or smaller parties for you and your 20 closest friends. Or you can just stop in Thursday through Sunday for a glass of wine at the bar.
While the wine at this place is certainly good (and VERY affordable), it was the service and ambiance that will bring me back. Every employee that I met was so friendly and eager to tell me about the company, especially the co-founder and President, Patrick MacCartee. Additionally, I am really impressed by how they turned a seemingly sterile warehouse space into a cozy, sustainable tasting bar. I look forward to going back and filling my empty bottles with more Tank18 wines!