The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Taking a look around the San Diego wine scene

Some of the most creative people I know are connected to the wine scene. From winemaker to wine server, they get it that wine has a special place in our lives. Wherever people gather, wine plays a role in adding to the success of the evening. So let’s get a taste of some recent wine events that left everyone smiling.
Ferrari Carano, always a quality winemaker from Sonoma, presented its new releases recently at Capri Blu, the Italian Bistro and Winebar in the 4S Ranch area west of Rancho Bernardo. The new and summer-style 2009 Bella Luce was introduced, a light wine of mostly Chardonnay, with six other world-class white grapes to produce its own individuality. ($14.) Other winners were the 2008 version of Siena, made of mostly Italian Sangiovese and Argentina’s Malbec ($18), and the limited release PreVail West Face, a rich-bodied dark ruby red wine of mostly cabernet with a healthy dose of Syrah ($55).
Up north on the 15 Freeway and into Escondido, Holiday Wine Cellar filled its underground wine tasting room with eager fans of Frank Family from Napa Valley. Catherine Uzeta, the Frank Family rep and Jim Kern of Holiday offered five Frank Family varietals for tasting and had attractive discounts on sales for that evening. I was most attracted by the 2008 Pinot Noir from the Carneros district of Napa Valley ($31.99). Fresh strawberry fruit impresses the palate, with hints of hibiscus tea, cinnamon and honey.
Word just in that Jim Carter’s South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in the Temecula Valley has won some 56 medals at the California State Fair, including 15 Best of Class.
It’s still another tribute to the determination of Carter to raise the level of quality wines in Temecula, with the expertise and wine wisdom of Master Winemaker Jon McPherson. The 38-acre property also has a world-class restaurant and spa, and is a major concert venue.
Many of the awards were for the Wild Horse Peak wines, with grapes grown up in the hills near Palomar Mountain. The 2006 Sangiovese is a distinguished version of the Tuscan great.
The Shores Restaurant in La Jolla, recently rejuvenated by restaurant manager and sommelier Lisa Redwine, presented Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars in the San Francisco Bay area. Five different tasting stations made it a pleasure to participate. There were five Rhone varietals presented including a Granache. Brockway underlines his small production quantities and a hands-on approach as keys to his recent success since 2004 in making pocket-friendly drinkable wines. 
Did you know that the family of the late Frank Sinatra now has Sinatra Family Estates wines, starting with a high quality 2007 Cabernet from Calistoga, Napa Valley (79.99). It’s starting to show up at finer wine shops.
The highest quality magazine for searching out the most contemporary information on food and wine is San Diego’s own Dining Out, a complimentary glossy publication available in finer restaurants and wine bars. The Summer/Fall edition is just out with fascinating revelations about Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as full menus of your favorite restaurants.
Carlsbad Wine Merchants Friday nights are really rockin’ and getting a fun reputation with live music, small bites cuisine and memorable wine tastings. First music set is usually 6:30 p.m. Caesar or berry salad, gourmet pizzas, chicken wings or cheese boards compliment the wine tastings which go from 5 to 8 p.m. for $10 for wine club members, $20 for nonmembers. TGIF never felt so good.
Wine Bytes
— VR Green Farms in San Clemente, an old-world Italian organic farm in the hills of the Bella Colina Golf Course, is hosting an ancient Roman costumed two-day cultural event Aug. 7 and Aug. 8. Hourly activities, food, drink and music on Aug. 7 for $25 per car, and Aug. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. a Roman Feast for $30 for adults and $19 for kids. For more information, call (949) 697-0032.
— PAON Restaurant and Wine Bar in downtown Carlsbad is having a wine dinner with the legendary Far Niente Vineyards and Winery of Napa Valley on Aug. 10. From Chardonnay to Cabernet, taste the latest vintages. Call (760) 729-7377 for times and cost.
— San Antonio Winery downtown Los Angeles will produce a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Seminar Luncheon from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 15. The event is hosted by well-known wine expert Michael Papalia. Call (800) 626-7722 for cost.
— Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula Wine Country is celebrating Jimmy Buffet’s music with a tribute concert by Garratt Wilkin and the Parrotheads from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 20. Cost is $40 with club members discounted to $36. For more information, call (951) 699-WINE.