At this time last year, Daniel and I had quit our jobs, Oakland Yard was a large, dusty, empty box, with no shelving, no permits, and no inventory, and my friend, Jens, had just arrived to help us make a wine shop out of a whole lot of nothing. This Jens (the J sounds like a Y) is a sculptor, and a builder, a master plasterer, and an accomplished metal worker. He is also a devoted friend, an excellent cook, and a wellspring of tremendous laughter.
Jens flew to California with power tools and stayed in our home for a month, first itemizing our build-out budget, and helping us choose materials, then unpacking the truck he loaded in Red Hook, Brooklyn, full of wood and steel and more tools, and then working well into the night, day after day, with the mounting pressures of building and health inspections and a pre-Thanksgiving opening.
Our store plans were drawn by Jens’ partner, Gita, one of my dearest and oldest friends. A skilled architect, gardener, and critical thinker, Gita was equally generous with her talents. The work they did would have cost us a small fortune, but we paid Jens in dinners at Burma Superstar, and beers at The Avenue, and gifted Gita a set of ceramic plates thrown by my father. They asked for no more, wanting only for us to have a beautiful space in which to work.
It’s been a year now, but I think fondly of Gita and Jens every single day, when I unlock the door, turn on the lights, and see again what they’ve made for us. Such acts of kindness shine brightly into the dark corners of our world as few things can, and as we at OAKLAND YARD have watched our friends and neighbors struggle with the fires up north, we’ve been thinking of ways we can help out. Profits from our California wine by the glass sales this last week, and the foreseeable weeks to come, are all going to fire aid, and Julia has organized, along with our fellow shops, Ordinaire and Vintage Berkeley, a fundraising tasting for this weekend.
This SATURDAY, October 21st, we’ll be pouring tasting flights from 12 to 6pm, and wines by the glass until 9pm, to raise money for the California fire relief efforts. Local winemakers have generously donated wine for the cause. We’ll be featuring delicious reds and whites from Wind Gap, Highlawn, Trail Marker, Waits-Mast, Thee & Thou, and Vinca Minor, and every penny will go to those in need.
And don’t forget, TONIGHT…
THURSDAY NIGHT FLIGHTS!: French Whites and Spanish Reds, from 4 to 8pm
And this SUNDAY: Flights of all new Italian wines, white and red, from 2 to 6pm