At Elliston Vineyards, you can truly taste history. Just the drive to the tasting room is a trip through history. Located in the unique village of Sunol, you turn off Interstate 680 and drive 100 years into the past to arrive at Sunol. As you enter the small compact town you are amazed to find such a quaint village like this in the heart of the Bay Area. Downtown Sunol is highlighted by the Sunol station for the Niles Canyon Railway that still uses steam power to transport its passengers between Sunol and Niles. Turn up Kilkare Road past the station and you drive past beautiful Victorian homes as you travel about a mile to Elliston Vineyards. As you pull into the drive, you are struck by the beautiful neo-Romanesque Elliston Mansion.
The Mansion was built by Henry Ellis who earlier was a sea captain supplying goods to fast growing San Francisco after the Gold Rush began. He delivered everything from the stones that were used to build Fort Point to hundreds of cats to help San Francisco fight the rat population. When he married, he gave up the seafaring life to settle down in San Francisco. Ellis joined the fledgling San Francisco Police force in 1855 and served for 22 years eventually becoming Chief of Police during the turbulent times of early, rough times of San Francisco. He later became a merchant in San Francisco and also Consul to the Turks Islands in the East Indies. Between 1885 and 1890 he built Elliston, a stately 17 room, three-story mansion in the agricultural town of Sunol. Celebrities including Prince Kuhio of Hawaii visited Elliston. In 1890 he planted a vineyard at Elliston.
In 1969 the Elliston Estate was purchased by Ramon and Amy Awtrey and restored and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The original carriage house was converted into the winery. Since 1992 the winery and estate have been owned by the Awtrey’s daughter, Donna Flavetta, who is the winemaker.
Elliston produces a wide range of white and red wines. The 2005 Pinot Blanc is a new release and has aromas of apple, butterscotch and hazelnuts with a hint of vanilla. Try this wine with crab or lobster.
The 2005 Pinot Gris is a wonderful wine with plenty of prevalent acidity with the aromas and tastes of juicy Kiwi and spices typical of Pinot Gris. It would go well with a Caesar salad, summer vegetables and Mediterranean dishes.
Their 1999 Merlot was very tasty with juicy blackberry and cherry flavors balanced with ripe tannins and the oak gives it smoky overtones. It would go well with BBQ ribs or grilled lamb.
Elliston is also a popular place for weddings and events. With the many events, wine taster dinners and dinner theaters, Elliston has their own exclusive Executive Chef, Joe Rodriques, who brings two decades of experience to Elliston, and can make any event at Elliston a historic event!
Visit Elliston Vineyards at 463 Kilkare Road in Sunol. The tasting room in the historic Elliston Mansion is open Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.