"I fully expect to be up and running by the 20th of August," says Jon Affonso, Sacramento's latest urban winemaker. Affonso, a Sacramento native bitten by the wine bug when he was an exchange student in France, is gearing up to establish his Rail Bridge Cellars in a former auto-body shop across north 16th Street from Capitol Casino. He's using Sacramento's I Street bridge as the winery's iconic image.
Affonso announced his plans on the heels of the opening of Sacramento's first commercial winery since Prohibition, Revolution Wines at 2116 P St., which debuted this weekend. Affonso has yet to get some required permits and bonds, but is so confident they will be forthcoming he has started to install winemaking equipment at 400 N. 16th St. He plans to sell his wines primarily through restaurants, wine shops and a wine club, and won't have a tasting room at the site.
A graduate of Sac State with a degree in geology and of Fresno State with a master's in enology, Affonso has been a research scientist, assistant winemaker and enologist with several wineries, most recently Renwood Winery in Amador County. His first wines under his own label will be a 2006 sauvignon blanc from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County and a 2004 Bordeaux red blend from the Oak Knoll District in Napa Valley. The sauvignon blanc is to be released next month, the red in October. He made the wines at facilities in Sonoma County and Napa Valley.
Affonso says his interest in going into the beverage industry also was fostered by his father's business, Terranova Roasting Coffee Co., also in Sacramento.