A piece of Berkeley wine history

Here’s a piece of Berkeley wine history - a bottle of 1978 Chateau Camelia Berkeley Pinot Noir. Yes, Pinot from grapes grown in Berkeley, in this case right next door to Travis Fretter’s winery on Camelia Street in West Berkeley. The building has gone on to house Edmunds St. John, Grapeleaf Cellars, Eno Wines, Harrington Wines, and Broc Cellars among others - currently, Lusu Cellars is there. That’s a drawing of the building on the wine label, with its distinctive diagonal glass blocks set in concrete and the wine barrel over the entry door.


Very cool pic, and a surprising find!!!

Did you taste it?

No, I have not tasted this. The bottle has been sitting around at the winery for years and years, and it’s got pretty substantial ullage / low fill, so it’s doubtful that the wine is in very good condition. And Travis Fretter, who made this wine, still owns the winery building on Camelia Street and I’m sure no one would consider opening this bottle without his ok. Travis may have other bottles in better shape than this one, but I don’t think I’ve ever asked him. The vineyard itself is long-gone - as I understand it, it was right next to the winery where an older house now stands - the house was moved there years ago. The vineyard can’t have been large enough to produce enough fruit from much wine, and I think (though I’m not sure) that this Pinot may just have been a small non-commercial bottling.

A side note to the winery on Camelia Street (now the cornerstone of a small wine community in West Berkeley, with Broc Cellars and Donkey & Goat right around the corner, and a new one, Windchaser Wine Co, set to open nearby) is the 1982 article below from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. The building is one of a couple of dozen in West Berkeley that used a glass block and precast concrete building system in the 1940s that’s seen few places outside the area.


Thanks for posting, I’ve never seen that bottle before. I’ve had a couple from Wine And The People (although the grapes were from Winery Lake), and they were pretty tasty. Love weird wine history.

Yes, great history, with a nice architectural footnote. Thanks, Ken.

Love the building. Thanks for sharing.