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Michelle Velchek, owner of La Costa Wine Company in Carlsbad. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Michelle Velchek, owner of La Costa Wine Company in Carlsbad. Photo by Rico Cassoni
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

La Costa Wine Company’s wide world of wines

Frank and I had the pleasure of visiting Michelle Velchek’s La Costa Wine Company in The Beacon shopping center in Carlsbad.

The center is growing monthly with new shops and restaurants, including big names, such as Steak ‘n Shake and Sweetgreen, and smaller shops, such as La Costa Wine and The Wise Ox, a butcher shop that also serves sandwiches from 10A a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

When we walked into La Costa Wine Co. and saw the wood display and inventory racks throughout the store with wines from California, the U.S. and around the world, including those from Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, I had a flashback.

As a child, I remember late Sports Commentator Jim McKay said, “It’s ABC’s Wide World of Sports.”  In La Costa Wine Co., it felt like Velchek’s “Wide World of Wines.”

She’s owned the store for eight years, and after purchasing it, she moved it from a few miles up the street to the current The Beacon shopping center location.

Like anything, you get what you pay for in life. Compared to big box stores with little or no assistance, Velchek and her team pride themselves on customer service, a full wine bar with daily tastings, and monthly pop-up Chef Erin Sealy wine dinners.

“Our favorite is when guests are pulling together a party, and we can assist with wine and food pairings. Even with the extra staff, we can keep our prices competitive,” Velchek said.

Most bottles are in an affordable $20 to $40 range, but those wanting to splurge can find knock-out wines such as the 2014 Staglin Estate Rutherford cabernet sauvignon. The Wine Bar, with plenty of bar or quant tables, offers $10 wine flights on Wednesdays with three 3 oz. pours.

On Saturdays and Sundays, flights are $25 – $35 and include four or five 3 oz. pours. Guests can also create their own custom tastings, have wine by the glass, purchase a bottle at the store and open it ($5 corkage for bottles less than $25, gratis if over $25) or even bring in their own special bottle ($20 corkage).

Flights start daily at 4 p.m. with shop and bar hours being Mon-Fri 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday hours are extended to 10 p.m., and Sunday the store closes at 6 p.m.

Additionally, customers can take advantage of the robust selection of cheeses from around the world during tastings. Great work, La Costa Wine Co team, offering a full-service wine shop with monthly wine dinners to bring the La Costa community together! See

Christophe Cevasco Cornering a Del Mar Corner

It was a busy week for Frank and me. We reviewed The Butcher Shop, visited La Costa Wine Co., and attended a media event at Cevasco’s in Del Mar featuring restaurateur and executive chef Christophe Cevasco, owner of Cevasco’s and upstairs BeeSide Balcony on a corner of Olde Del Mar.

Cevasco is a third-generation chef of Spanish and Italian descent. Hailing from Paris, France, Christophe’s restaurant career began at 17 in the kitchen of his father’s restaurant in Pasadena when they first emigrated to the USA.

In 2011, after returning from a SoCal hiatus where he worked in Las Vegas, he spent eight years as a managing partner at La Jolla’s Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, deepening his knowledge in fine cuisine and world-class service. Christophe has recently returned to his roots as executive chef at Cevasco’s and BeeSide Balcony.

(Left to right) Cevasco’s octopus ceviche, fried tortellini, and arancini happy hour plates. Photo by Rico Cassoni
(Left to right) Cevasco’s octopus ceviche, fried tortellini, and arancini happy hour plates. Photo by Rico Cassoni

With a daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., Cevasco’s, with its bar, inside tables, and tables on the corner overlooking “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” is a perfect place to take in cocktails, beer, wine, happy hour, dinner, a game, catching up with friends in a casual atmosphere, etc.

Those wanting a breathtaking view during dinner might want to start at Cevasco’s and then migrate upstairs to his BeeSide Balcony restaurant, with elevated, stunning views and a more extensive menu.

We had a chance to sample several items on the very affordable happy hour shareable menu.  The Octopus Ceviche, Fried Tortellini, Arancini (crispy rice balls, black truffle, and spicy marinara), Taco Loco street tacos with brisket, and BBQ Brisket Slider were above and beyond Happy Hour cuisine.

Those wanting traditional dinner dishes will delight in choosing entrees ranging from salad with or without protein, Raw Bar seafood, Noodles (Italian pasta dishes), The Grill with surf and turf options, and From the Sea plates that include Sesame Crusted Tuna, Grilled Salmon, and Halibut Piccata made with freshly delivered seafood.

The Happy Hour $9 Cocktails, $5 Wells, $5 Wines, and $3 Beers are also sure to please. In addition, Christophe had some fantastic wine choices for Bubbles & Rosé, New World whites and reds, and global whites and reds. Most notable was the Gaja Promis, Super Tuscan. Frank and I did a double take seeing this as a by-the-glass choice. It was a delicious choice with our fare!

We look forward to a future review of BeeSide Balcony. Great job, exec chef Christophe and bartender Jake King. Additional info at

Wine Bytes

Fall CRUSH returns to Temecula Valley after a two-year break due to coronavirus showcasing the wines of 30+ member wineries at one location!  The outdoor event will take place from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Monte de Oro, 35820 Rancho California Road, with early access ticket holders gaining entry at 7 p.m. Tickets are $105 and $115 for VIP/Early Access. Get tickets here:

— Sal Ercolano, the owner of Flora Bar and Kitchen in Carmel Valley, is hosting a five-course Ferrari Carano Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, and Thursday, Sept. 22. The main course features venison loin in a cabernet reduction with root vegetables paired with Tresor Bordeaux red blend. The cost is $75 per person plus tax/gratuity. RSVP at 858.461.0622.

Rico Cassoni is executive producer for Taste of Wine & Food. Founder and advisor Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. They are two of the leading reviewers on the web.  View their columns at Reach them at [email protected].