Over the course of the pandemic, many industries were hard hit, but perhaps the hardest hit was the food and beverage industry. A former supervisor once told me, “Rico, when things get tough, there are opportunities to excel.”
This was also the attitude of the food and beverage industry during the pandemic. I think two of my favorite outcomes were QR code menus that can be updated on the fly with items and prices and Carruth Cellars’ way of doing events.
For more than a decade, owner Adam Carruth has hosted barrel tasting events where guests make reservations and get to spend 20 minutes at each of the five stations with a particular theme, including Burgundy, Italy, Right Bank, Left Bank (Bordeaux) and Rhone.
At the 12th annual Barrel Tasting event in Solana Beach, we were in the first group and paired up with longtime (over 10 years) Carruth Cellars wine members Keith Greener and Debbie Day, along with their son Jack Greener.
Living a few blocks away, they are spoiled being able to drop in on Carruth’s Cedros location anytime to enjoy delicious wines and fun events. Carruth creates a vibe for his locations with outstanding wine, events with great tunes, food, and vendors making members loyal “cult” fans.
Also, the new Carruth Oceanside multi-tenant venue featuring Carruth Cellars Urban Winery & Tipping Pint Brewery facility is now open. Additionally, Carruth is busy creating a new 11,000-square-foot location in Liberty Station with an 8,000 courtyard and the remaining space inside. The Liberty Station location is set to open in June 2022.
What is impressive about Carruth Cellars events is the knowledge of the workers. Carruth events manager Carlotta Addante ensures staffers are up to speed on their stations, including varietals, processing, aging, etc. A great example is Carly Salway, a WSET Level 2 sommelier.
The event started with the Burgundy station. Jamie was pouring two pinot noirs. One with fruit sourced from Sonoma Coast and the other from the Russian River, both with 2021 fruit. The first earthy with bing cherry and clove, the Russian River lighter with cherry and hints of rose and black tea.
The second station was the Italian station with two zins. A 2020 vintage with fruit from Milligan’s Dry Creek vineyard that Carruth has been sourcing since 2005 and 2021 Russian River berries with Breana pouring.
It was only fitting that pizzas created by Scuderie Italia mobile pizza oven were served at this station. Eszter Szatmary, Landini’s Group Catering Manager, was assisting Maestro Pizzaiolo John Carlo Ferraiuolo. Both were inspired by John Carlo’s father Antonion, who was visiting from Italy.
Guests had the pizza choice of margherita, pepperoni, truffle and affumicata (sausage, mushroom, and basil) — I had this one and it was perfetto.
Gabby was providing Right Bank barrel samples at the third station with 2019 merlot fruit from Dry Creek and 2019 cab franc sourced from Chalk Hill. Both of these varietals had previous vintages being Gold winners.
The fourth station was Left Bank (Bordeaux). Amanda was serving my favorite Carruth Wine, their BDX blend (merlot, cab sauv, malbec, cab franc and petit verdot). In fact, I just brought over a very tasty 2014 BDX to Frank’s for a Red Sox game where the BDX was superb and the Sox won!
Also at this station was a new 2019 cabernet sauvignon for which Carruth used new French oak as well as American oak, imparting hints of vanilla and cassis with plum on the palate.
These two winners made the Bordeaux station my choice station of the day. The event concluded with Victoria at the Rhone station pouring 2019 syrah and 2019 petite sirah.
Both were sourced from Alexander Valley with the petite sirah being the bolder of the two with a jammy blueberry palate with hints of lavender on the nose. The syrah, with previous vintages being Double Gold, had black fruit on the palate with baking spice and cocoa-like Rutherford Dust.
Victoria was also pouring a secret Fall 2020 cab sauvignon dessert wine. A special feature of the event is that guests were able to purchase wine futures being tasted at the event that will continue to be aged and bottled and due out in the fall.
Great job Adam, Carlotta, Carruth team, and Scuderie Italia for a memorable event. Congrats on the new and upcoming locations as well! carruthcellars.com
— Temecula’s De Portola Wine Trail is hosting a Big Red Festival on Sunday, April 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests will enjoy wine and artisan food from 10 De Portola wineries with check-in at one of the following wineries: Robert Renzoni Vineyard, Oak Mountain, Leoness Cellars, and Danza Del Sol. Tix are $79.99 per person ($39.99 for designated driver-food only) at deportolawinetrail.com.
— Carmel Valley’s FLORA bar&kitchen is hosting a lively version of Cinco De Mayo, Thursday, May 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. Lots of music with spinner DJ Psyched shoutin’ out the music. Flora’s bartenders have unlimited award-winning Tenshen wine tasting for $15, margaritas for $10, and 2 tacos at $10, making this a Cinco De Mayo to remember. Details at 858-461-0622.
Reach Frank and Rico at [email protected].