Paso Robles tasting tour hits San Diego

All of Southern California is expected to stop what they are doing and flock to the several venues that make up the Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour Tuesday from Feb. 23 to Feb. 25. Eleven events are being staged from Cardiff to Point Loma in a regional showcase of more than 40 winemakers, including wine dinners, trade and public tastings and a unique nighttime, ultra-chic club lounge music experience. 
“Wineries from Paso Robles have seen increased demand from Southern California wine enthusiasts,” said Paso Robles Wine Alliance Executive Director Stacey Jacobs. “Across the landscape, you will find 26,000 vineyard acres producing more than 40 different grape varieties.”  One hundred and eighty wineries dot Paso’s Wine Country, including names like Adelaida, Ancient Peaks, Eberle, Four Vines, Halter Ranch, J Lohr, Niner, Opolo, Silver Horse and Tablas Creek.
The beauty of these events is that more often than not, you will be able to catch a conversation with the owners/winemakers in one place and one event. 
OK, here are the restaurants and wine shops that will feature Paso wines in dinners and taste events.
— Feb. 23: Wine Steals in Cardiff and Point Loma, Flemings Prime Steakhouse, Alchemy, Phil’s BBQ, and Linkery in San Diego.
— Feb. 24: Urban Solace, WineSellar & Brasserie in San Diego, a trade and media  tasting from 1 to 5 p.m. at NTC Promenade in the McMillin Events Center in Pt. Loma, then from 8 to 10 p.m. a CRAVE unique wine tasting experience in a lounge-bar atmosphere that will surely turn heads, also at the NTC Promenade in the McMillin Events Center. 
— Feb. 25: The new Wine Steals location in East Village near Petco Park. From 6 to 8 p.m., award-winning Paso wines will be poured in a grand tasting. Gourmet food by Wine Steals new Gastro Pub will enhance the wines. 
Eleven events in all are planned. Visit www.paso wine.com to learn more and guide your event planning for these VIP wine days, or you can call and ask questions at (800) 549-WINE. For media questions, call Evan or Mary at Fast Forward Events in San Diego at (858) 578-9463.
Island Prime primed for flavor
It is a rare occasion to witness a family restaurant group with the singular quality and wide divergence that the Cohn Restaurant Group in San Diego exhibits. During the past 25 years, David and Leslie Cohn have brought San Diego County an amazing array of prime-flavor dining in their 11 restaurants. Well-deserved honors have been bestowed upon the Cohn “obsession with hospitality,” from the original Corvette Diner to the upscale steak and seafood operations 333 Pacific in Oceanside and Island Prime on Harbor Island in San Diego.
We have raved over the menu and wine list at 333 Pacific as being original and uniquely flavorful, so we jumped at the opportunity to meet the staff and sample the offerings at Island Prime. 
Deborah Scott is the executive chef, a top shelf talent with a sense of the “wow” factor. Her resume is impressive, but it’s in the food that she sets the bar high with flavor that can’t be beat. 
I would recommend starting with the crab-stuffed artichoke, then the baby beets salad with walnuts and goat cheese. You have to order the Island Prime Filet Trio if you’re a beef lover like I am.
Toppings are different on each and include gorgonzola, wild mushrooms and blue crab. Three different culinary experiences in one entrée — brilliant!
Side options include truffled-creamed corn, green beans, wild mushrooms and lots more. The wine list and operations are run by Maurice DiMarino who is always on the floor, making certain that the Cohn’s obsession with hospitality is in full bloom. For more see islandprime.com or dinecrg.com.
Wine Bytes
— West Steak, Seafood and Spirits in Carlsbad and Executive Chef Eugenio Martignago showcase Penfolds Wines of Australia in a wine and dinner event starting at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22. Delicious food will match up with wines like Riesling, Chardonnay, Red Blends and Port. Rack of Australian Lamb is the main entrée of this four-course dinner. Cost is $75 each. RSVP at (760) 930-9100.
— La Costa Wine Company in Carlsbad has a limited-space Justin Tasting from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 26. This will sell out fast, as Justin from Paso Robles is well-known around the wine world. New releases only. The cost is $30 per person. RSVP at (760) 431-8455.
— The 3rd Corner in Encinitas hosts an Ojai Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. Feb. 16. A four-course dinner with four different wines from Riesling to a lovely Viognier Dessert wine. The cost is $65. Reserve at (760) 942-2104.
— The Argyle Steakhouse at the Four Seasons in the Aviara Carlsbad now has a Happy Hour. It starts at 4 p.m. with $4 drinks, 5 p.m. has $5 drinks and 6 p.m. has $6 drinks. Details at (760) 603-3773.

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