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The One-Man San Francisco Waterfront Winery

Visiting a Unique San Francisco Winemaker

By Dianne Boate and Robert Meyer

Did you know there is a winery at a pier on the Embarcadero? Tom Kehoe is the owner of the only winery in San Francisco, and he is the winemaker, the label designer, the sales rep, and the advertising department.Tomís career began on the East Coast in the glamorous world of advertising for Conde Nast publications. In the 60s and 70s, the new popularity of California wines and the romance of a winemaking life began to form a dream for Tom. He kept his day job and began to study winemaking from books. He discovered you could buy California grapes at the Bronx Terminal Market. He experimented with New York state grapes, but they were not as promising due to weather limitations and availability. He told us his biggest problem was lack of practical information from people in the field.

Opportunity met preparedness when Tomís firm assigned him to open an office in San Francisco. By the time he was ready to retire, he was a self-made winemaker, but now armed with access to good grapes and good advice. By 1985, he was seriously in the business, becoming bonded four years later.
Tom specializes in red wines: cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel. The grapes come from Dry Creek Road in Sonoma County. Yearly production is 150-200 cases. High quality wine shops like The Jug Shop, Plump Jack, and the London Wine Bar carry his attractively labeled Thomas Kehoe wines.

One of us is strictly a white wine person, but in sampling his 1998 Cab, one of us did a lot more than sampling. True confessions time! When Tom heard this story, he said, "The 2001 Cab is even better."

Dianne Boate is a San Francisco photojournalist. She currently has a one-woman show of Icelandic Summerscapes at Enricoís Sidewalk Cafe. Robert Meyer is a consultant in the wine and spirits industry