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A happy partnership: Mike Hurst, regional manager of Ferrari Carano Wines in Sonoma and Sal Ercolano owner of Seasalt Seafood Bistro of Del Mar. Photo by Frank Mangio
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Taste of Wine: Here and there in San Diego’s urban wine scene

This is one of my favorite formats for TASTE OF WINE.  I love to explore and check out what’s new and wonderful in the wine and food space.

This column is especially a discovery of what’s new around the playgrounds of San Diego.

This time its Del Mar, the downtown Gaslamp and San Marcos.

Wine shops and restaurants consistently ask me, “What is it that I have to do to get a strong turnout for my wine events?”

The first thing I tell them is to get me the facts about the event and I in turn will report it to my readers and viewers up and down the SoCal coast.  I also let them know that the best thing they can do is collaborate and partner up with a well known, quality winery with a great reputation.

Seasalt Seafood Bistro and Ferrari Carano played this to perfection.  You couldn’t ask for a better pedigree than this Dry Creek Sonoma great.  Ferrari Carano owns 24 vineyards in California and makes 27 grape varietals.

They are certified sustainable which means they are caretakers of the land putting back what they take out; five wines were poured with a royal menu.  My favorite was really two wines:  the Siena Sangiovese Blend 2013 ($21) and the Tresor Bordeaux Blend ($42).

The delicious menu peaked in the fourth course with beef tenderloin in dry fig wine sauce.  See more on this new and beautiful restaurant at

Next stop, the thriving heartbeat of San Diego, the Gaslamp and Morton’s The Steakhouse.

Tim Reed is the congenial host and serves as general manager of this traditional steak house.

Tim Reed, general manager of Morton’s, shows off the Corporate Room, where it’s not unusual to see a few 3-liter wines being passed around. Photo by Frank Mangio
Tim Reed, general manager of Morton’s, shows off the Corporate Room, where it’s not unusual to see a few 3-liter wines being passed around. Photo by Frank Mangio

Morton’s has nearly 30 years in business and over 70 locations with its start in Chicago. Morton’s guests have come to expect excellent service in a prime setting, with lots of elbowroom to make everyone comfortable.

On this night, Reed opened a 2013 Napa Valley Hess Cabernet a nicely paired wine for a lovely main course of a bone-in Filet Mignon, a Morton’s main event.  Darrick Silva is the executive chef and is catching on to what San Diegans love best since coming to Morton’s in July.

Visit their site at

Meanwhile, up in San Marcos there was a coming out party for a new wine from a long-time wine maker.  Duncan Williams, who has earned his stripes at Fallbrook Winery and Falkner Winery in Temecula, has taken on a new wine project while still doing the wine for Falkner.

The setting was the North County Wine Company, a fun and casual wine bar that’s getting more popular by the day. The Tobin brothers, Jim and Bill, welcomed Williams and his new Williams and Heim.

Nice lineup right out of the shoots with a Chardonnay, Cab Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a blend that he calls Triple Entendre ($51.97).  All grapes come from the finest appellations:  Sonoma, Napa Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands. Details at

Notable:  Las Vegas is where it’s always new and exciting. You can now read TASTE OF WINE in the leading Italian-American publication CIAO TUTTI, found in the best restaurants and resorts in Vegas. A thank you to Tony Ricevuto for his help in placing TASTE OF WINE in this great magazine. See


Wine Bytes

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting is Nov. 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Embarcadero San Diego.  Admission starts at $135. More than 200 premier wines, beers and spirits and 70 restaurants.  Call (619) 312-1212 or visit

JAX Vineyard of San Diego is having a five-course wine pairing dinner at Shorehouse Kitchen in La Jolla Dec. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m.  Call (858) 459-3300.  Cost is $65.

La Costa Wine Company in Carlsbad is having a Plumpjack wine tasting Dec. 4 from 6 to 9 p.m.  Feature wine is the Plumpjack Cabernet 2012.  Cost is $29. Call for details at (760) 431-8455.

San Diego Wine Company is presenting a Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting Nov. 28.  Call (858) 586-WINE for reservations.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View his columns at and reach him at [email protected].  Follow him on Facebook.

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