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The massive underground caves at Justin winery in Paso Robles, reported to hold up to 25,000 barrels. Courtesy photo
ColumnsTaste of Wine

New 7 Mile Kitchen offers best of SoCal food and drink

Carlsbad now has another reason to get out and eat, drink and play with the opening of the new and innovative 7 Mile Kitchen at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa, soon to be joined by its sister hotel, Westin Carlsbad Resort and Spa, just above Legoland.

If there’s a party going on, chances are it’s happening at 7 Mile Kitchen’s airy, comfy colorful restaurant and extensive new pool next door. You can sit in or sit out in the 4,000-square-foot glitzy surroundings which include a slick cocktail, wine and beer bar supervised by Beverage Director Steve George. George also handles the bar at the more upscale sit-down Twenty/20 Grill.

A fascinating pizza menu made with imported ingredients at 7 Mile Kitchen. Photo via Facebook

The chef is Gil Manipon, who deserves all kinds of kudos for his selection of seven artisanal pizzas, created with handmade dough and house-made tomato sauce baked in a super-sized Neopolitan-style, wood-fired oven, at more than 700 degrees. 

And it doesn’t stop there. The pizza sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh herbs and the best olive oil available. 

My craving for the perfect pizza knows no bounds, and going through the 7 Mile list is one of the more delightfully difficult decisions out there. That’s why I’ll keep returning.

My choice after examining each …the “Wild ‘Shroom,” with roasted wild mushrooms, prosciutto and white truffle cream. Cost is $15 for a six-piece pie.

You’ll have a great time with the rest of their extensive menu, including remarkable ravioli and lasagna and lots of fish and beef choices. 

Mixoligist George pointed out some exclusive cocktail names, 35 wines and 10 beers on the wide ranging list. A favorite wine from Italy had a nice glass and bottle price, the Banfi Rosso Centine from Montalcino in Tuscany. A recommended mixed drink is the “Strawberry Balsamic Shrub” with all-fresh produce added to a vodka base. See more at

Justin shines at Seasalt

Justin is the western-most Paso Robles wine property with fine wines that have enabled it to identify itself as a leading winery in all of California. For years it was operated by banker turned winemaker Justin Baldwin, who had a love for French blended wines from Bordeaux. His style evolved from old world to new world, with a very high flavor profile.

Sal Ercolano, the high profile restaurateur at Seasalt Seafood Bistro in Del Mar, caught on to the Justin story, and after a three-night sell-out wine dinner with the Prisoner wines in Napa Valley, welcomed his adoring public with another “three-peat” dinner event featuring Justin and its Landmark Vineyards wine division. 

Recently, Justin was purchased by Fiji Water and in some quarters there was a collective groan as to what a water company could do with a quality wine. But groans changed to applause as Justin not only got better, it got less expensive.

Their Cabernet Sauvignon can be found in many wine departments for just $21.99. Each night, Seasalt positioned the final Justin tasting for the new release 2015 Justification, a right bank Bordeaux Blend highlighting Cabernet Franc and Merlot with 19 months in French Oak ($60 at the winery.) 

There is the more well-known Isosceles, for slightly more dollars, but for my money, Justification justifies your buying decision. Next event at Seasalt is “A Night in France” and it happens at 6 p.m. July 26. Make your reservation at (858) 755-7100. See more of the Justin story at

Wine Bytes

• A Batasiolo Barolo wine dinner happens at Parc Bistro, 5th Avenue San Diego, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. July 18. Enjoy the wines from this leading Piedmont Italian wine powerhouse. Cost is $99 for a five-course dinner and five wines. Call (619) 795-1501.

• Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas has a “Sonoma Stunners” wine event at 6 p.m. July 20. A laid-back wine country it has rich and powerful wines. Six wines for $30 per person, $20 for wine club members. See

• The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo brings in Tablas Creek Winery from Paso Robles, at 2:30 p.m. July 21. Cheese and charcuterie served. Cost is $35 for four wines. Visit

• The California Wine Festival comes to Santa Barbara, July 19 to July 21 at multiple locations in town. The Saturday Beachside fest starts at $70. Details at