Unsung Visionaries

California's African-American winemakers
Vision Cellars
Vision Cellars' winemaker, Mac McDonald

The Association of African American Vintners counts only six wineries among its members--all of them in California. In addition, there are fewer than a dozen African-American-owned wineries in the entire country.

Those numbers might sound impressive until you consider that there were a total of 6,368 wineries in the U.S. in 2008--and that number grows annually.

In the spirit of changing those statistics, 1300 Fillmore (1300 Fillmore St.; 415-771-7100 or in the city's Jazz District is offering a four-course tasting menu paired with wines ($95) from African-American-owned wineries through Sunday. The event is well-timed, tied as it is to African-American History Month. But these wineries also deserve attention beyond the month of February.

Here are standout bottles from three of the finest wineries; each is represented on 1300 Fillmore's list:

2008 Vision Cellars Riesling ($22) Made from Mendocino County grapes, this floral and fruit-forward white with good acidity pairs with spicy foods and is perfect for sipping on our frequent warm-weather days in winter (

2005 Esterlina Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Esterlina Lazy S Vineyard ($40) This single-vineyard Cabernet from the cooler reaches of Sonoma County, with a smoky halo around dark berry fruit, is delightfully accessible (

2008 Brown Estate Zinfandel ($36) Made from Chiles Valley District grapes from Napa Valley, this racy wine with dark red fruit flavors begs for grilled, grass-fed beef (

1300 on Fillmore 1300 FIllmore St. San Francisco CA 94115 (415) 771-7100 1300 on FIllmore 1300 Fillmore St. San Francisco CA 94117 (415) 771-7100 Drink Brown Estate Zinfandel
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