The Coast News Group
Adam Carruth, left, proprietor/winemaker at Carruth Cellars, uses a wine thief to collect a Sangiovese barrel sample for Rico Cassoni. Photo by Frank Mangio
Arts & EntertainmentColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Carruth Cellars rolls out the barrels

It is that time of year in a winery’s cycle when the winemaker and their team analyze and determine if vintages that have been aging in oak barrels are ready for bottling. Senior Editor Frank Mangio and I, along with 200 other guests, had the opportunity to taste and enjoy 10 red wine barrel samples at Carruth Cellars’ two-day, sold-out 11th annual 2021 Barrel Tasting Party.

Adam Carruth, proprietor and winemaker, showcased his latest creations. The following 2019 vintages were presented at five stations: Pinot Noir/Sangiovese, Zinfandel/Merlot, Cab Franc/Malbec, a duel of Alexander Valley/Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah/Syrah. Many of these vintages have pedigrees as double gold, gold and silver winners.

Before aging, grapes have been grown, harvested, crushed, macerated (soaking the skins in the grape juice, typically with pump-overs), fermented (where the sugars in the must slurry are converted to alcohol in a stainless steel tank), pressed or allowed to free run, and then aged for months to years in oak barrels, followed by bottling and laying down until sold.

Why oak? There are several reasons, including its capability to be shaped, tight grains that make it waterproof but breathable, and its ability to interact with the wine’s tannins to develop flavor and structure.

During the tour Carruth revealed, “This year I was able to take advantage of a new barrique program. The barriques (barrels) are one of the most expensive costs for a winery. Having more new oak (a mixture of both French and US) smoothes tannins, adds structure, and enhances longevity in the bottle.”

Being an urban winery, Carruth Cellars sources harvested fruit from select suppliers and then completes the above process starting with the crushing stage.

Frank and I had the pleasure of having Adam walk us through and share his insights on the wines , including blends such as combining Station 3 Cab Franc and Malbec as a quick Bordeaux blend. Thank you for your time and the tour!

As with any great party, it is key to have good food and tunes. Food Truckopia was on hand serving killer burgers. They have three trucks: American Flavors, West Coast Provisions (on-site at Green Flash Brewery, Wednesday through Sunday) and Taco Picaso.

Truckopia is independently owned and has been serving San Diego for over  six years and can serve at events with up to 5,000 people. If you are looking for great food at your next soiree, check out

If you need a DJ to keep the beat going, including live Twitch streaming, Nickolai Beats has you covered with Top 40 and other mixes. Contact at [email protected].

Be sure to save the date for Carruth Cellars’ Bordeaux Celebration on May 22-23. Attendees will be able to enjoy barrel samples and reserve wines including mini verticals. Check out

Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni


Gianni Buonomo scores double gold, best in class

Congrats to Gianni Buonomo Vintners, led by proprietor and winemaker Keith Rolle, for their recent wins at the esteemed West Coast Wine Competition in Petaluma. Their 2017 Gianni Buonomo Avennio won a gold medal and earned a 92-point rating.

Even bigger were their wins from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (SFCWC). The SFCWC is the largest competition of North American wines in the world. Over 60 experts within the media, trade, hospitality and education industries from around the  country judge over 7,000 commercial wines at this event.

The Gianni Buonomo winners include: 2016 Buonomo Reserve Charbono, double gold – best of class; 2017 Gianni California Petite Sirah, double gold; and 2017 Gianni Buonomo Maestrale, gold. Way to go, Team Gianni Buonomo on the new hardware! See

— Story by Tech Director/Writer – Rico Cassoni


Wine Bytes
  • Happy Hour is back at West End Bar & Kitchen in Del Mar. Check out these selected happy prices: $5 wine, $7 cocktails, $2 off beers and 20% off all food on the starter menu. Stop by West End, 4:30-6:30 p.m., and get happy! Service inside or outside! Visit or call 858-259-5878.
  • Vittorio’s in Carmel Valley has a money-maker that rewards diners. Pay your bill in cash and get 10% back in a gift card to be used on your next visit to Vittorio’s. It happens every time you dine and pay with cash. Details at, or call 858-538-5884.
  • Parc Bistro-Brasserie on Bankers Hill downtown re-opens its doors in time for a Live Music Easter Celebration, Sunday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Enjoy a three-course prix-fixe menu, live music with Celeste Barbier , 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and Carlos Valesco, 4-7 p.m. Brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner, 3-8 p.m. Details at, or call 619-795-1501.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Reach him at [email protected].