Senior Editor Frank and I were elated to spend our first post-COVID shutdown in-person review and event at Oceanside’s Coomber Craft Wines with our good friends and owners Skip and Maureen Coomber.
The Coombers were beaming with ear-to-ear smiles to not only have guests back to their winery and tasting room, but with live music seven days a week as well. Skip said, “Being the CEO of California Music Lessons with over 200 instructors, it was important for us to support local musicians and no better way than performing at Coomber Craft Wines.”
It was no surprise to Frank and me that the first topic that Skip wanted to share was not about their delicious wines, but how Coomber Craft Wines has been supporting the Oceanside community during the COVID-19 pandemic and civil tensions. It was telling us what we knew all along, just how classy a guy Skip is and how important community is to him and Maureen.
During the pandemic, Coomber has been open for home delivery, teaming up with neighbors Rim Talay and Rosewood Kitchen with Dinner for Two specials + cost of wine and tax. This provided revenue for the restaurants and allowed Coomber to maintain wages for all sidelined hourly workers. Additionally, during this period of social unrest, Skip marched in peaceful protests knowing his community was hurting and reconciling feelings.
The Coombers’ Oceanside Tasting Room is now open, following all protocols for guests and employees, with local performers scheduled by company president Will Burtner. The performers write their own music and are not just cover bands. Frank and I were dazzled with Whit Aadland’s “Historical Preservation” sound of past Sam Cooke and today’s Chris Stapleton, along with Beatles and Stevie Wonder favorites. Originals included “Killin Me to Stay” and “Can’t Find a Bed.” Local favorite Kimmi Bitter has also recently played at their venue.
Skip was kind enough to open two bottles for us, the 2013 Private Reserve Sta. Rita Hills, Pinot Noir ($78) and 2013 Signature Collection Santa Ynez, Cabernet Sauvignon ($57). Both exceptional, the Pinot perhaps beyond exceptional with red cherry, raspberry and currant flavors. 50% new French oak barrels bring vanilla, allspice, cinnamon, mocha, clove, toffee and tannins with a unique chocolate finish (a killer must-try Pinot!).
We had these two beauties along with a Benito’s pizza. Skip, Maureen and Will — Keep up the amazing work for your Oceanside community, wine club members and guests. Bravo, Bravo! See more information including their music schedule at coomberwines.com.
—Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni
Welcome back to the tasting rooms of California!
As I format the second story of this issue, I want to first echo the excitement, joy and relief Rico and I had in our first assignment since the coronavirus shutdown in early March. Coomber Craft Wines in Oceanside was a perfect urban winery for the two of us to return to form.
Given the good news on the return of winery tasting rooms, I want to introduce our readers and viewers to a tucked away, brilliantly composed winery in Amador County, Jeff Runquist.
Jeff Runquist Wines is a producer of single vineyard wines with red table grapes that he chooses from throughout California. After 18 years of making wines for others, Jeff Runquist launched his own label with the 1995 vintage of the “Z” Zinfandel from Missoni vineyard in Amador. He now makes fabulous wines in slick bottles, from Zinfandel to Petite Sirah. Runquist has selected his grapes from vineyards that provide rich, full flavors.
Runquist promises that “we will work very hard to produce balanced wines. Wines that will age and become more complex with time, but wines that can be enjoyed in their youth as well.”
Here’s my scorecard of favorites: “Z” Zinfandel ($27.99), Petite Sirah ($28), Petite Verdot ($28.99), Barbera ($25.99). Love ’em all, but “Z” will knock you out! They agreed at the California State Fair in 2019 and voted Runquist the “Winery of the Year.”
At this writing, the tasting room has opened, as have all California tasting rooms, and all have protocol including an RSVP before arrival. Runquist is about two hours north of San Francisco off Interstate 5, near Plymouth. Phone is 209-245-6282. Visit at jeffrunquistwines.com.
- Carter Hospitality has reopened South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula. Carter Estate Winery & Resort will open July 1. Both resorts will use their many outdoor terraces and gardens for dining and wine tasting, by advanced appointment to ensure physical distancing. See southcoastwinery.com.
- Morton’s of San Diego is presenting the 3 Kings of Paso Robles Virtual Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Tasting Friday, June, 19 from 7 to 8 p.m. The wines will include J Lohr, Austin Hope and DAOU Winery, featuring representatives from each winery. The tasting package is $99 each. Wine dinner options are extra. Call 619-696-3369 for full details.
- The Godfather Italian restaurant in Clairemont has Father’s Day weekend dinners Saturday, June 20, from 5 to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 21, from 2 to 9 p.m. To-go menu also available. Call 858-560-1747 for an RSVP.
- Sal Ercolano’s West End Kitchen and Bar in Del Mar has a dine-in DAOU wine event Saturday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m. $85 per person, $150 for two. Four great DAOU wines with a four-course gourmet dinner, led by the 2017 DAOU Reserve Cabernet. RSVP at 858-259-5878. Protocol rules apply.
Reach Frank Mangio at [email protected].