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Carruth Cellars Assistant Winemaker Steve Michaliszyn randomly tastes the seeds, juice and skins of Chardonnay for quality control before processing. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Columns Food & Wine Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Making wine at Carruth Cellars’ 10th anniversary celebration

Carruth Cellars, with Adam Carruth at the helm, is the largest urban winery in San Diego County with four bustling locations in Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Little Italy and a new production facility across from Oceanside Airport.

In the past 10 years, Carruth Cellars has grown to operate three tasting room locations, bottling some 20,000 cases of a wide variety of Carruth wines, primarily sourcing grapes from Northern and Central California.

The Carlsbad tasting room will soon offer a small plate menu with the addition of a new kitchen, which should be serving by the end of the year. The new Oceanside location will transform into “The Hangar” with the addition of a production brewery and beer and wine garden, set to open in 2021.

Adam Carruth, owner/winemaker of Carruth Cellars, inspects his wine press after loading three tons of Sonoma Chardonnay grapes at his Oceanside production facility. Photo by Rico Cassoni

The winery has been rewarded with 15 award winners from the highly rated San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. In our recent visit to Carruth Oceanside with Tech Director Rico, Carruth and his team had already arrived at 5:30 a.m. to start processing 24 bins of Russian River Valley Sonoma Chardonnay, purchased from a supplier vineyard with leading winery client credentials. Processing includes pressing, fermenting, aging in tanks and oak barrels and bottling for eventual sales.

The goal that day was to get the 12 tons of fruit out of the bins and pressed, then passed by large hosing to waiting barrels.

After a quick tour of the production equipment and an even quicker stop at a bin full of Chardonnay grapes for a taste of the newly arrived fruit, we dodged some fruit bin-moving vehicles and arrived at the red wine barrel storage area for our highlight of the day, barrel tasting of five reds as they got set to be bottled for sale in the weeks and months ahead.

1st tasting, 2019 Russian River Zinfandel with splashes of 2018 and 2019 Alexander Valley Petite Sirah; 2nd tasting, 2018 Dry Creek Grenache made Ridge style plus splashes of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah; 3rd tasting, 2018 Alexander Valley Petite Sirah; 4th tasting, 2018 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir; and 5th tasting, 2018 Knights Valley Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a limited premier production Cab (150 cases) that both Rico and I thought would be sold out as soon as it hit the shelves.

All month long, Carruth Cellars’ three tasting rooms will be celebrating the winery’s 10th anniversary by giving away raffle drawing prizes each week. Each is open daily. Two grand prizes will be awarded at the end of the celebration.

Complete details on the Carruth website, carruthcellars.com.

Sojourn Cellars releases Fall 2020 lineup

When I saw the Sojourn Cellars Fall 2020 lineup, I quickly reminisced about the Spring 2020 launch party that Senior Editor Frank and I attended at the Ruth’s Chris Del Mar location. Guests were treated to Sojourn Cellars Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals along with Ruth’s Chris small bites, including Angus sliders.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is preventing release parties for the Fall 2020 launch, but the show must go on with or without soirees for the Fall 2020 release!

Being from Sonoma, one of the Pinot Noir capitals of the world, Sojourn would be expected to continue its tradition of killer Pinots — and it has. This release features exclusive small-lot bottlings of 2018 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from exceptional Sonoma vineyards, including 94-point rated Ridgetop and Riddle Vineyard Pinot Noirs.

Sojourn also has allocations of its extraordinary 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville Ranch Vineyard available. The Oakville Ranch Cab was one of Frank’s and my favorites from the Spring 2020 release, bringing together an extraordinary terroir and meticulous farming. With six more months in the bottle, now even more profound.

Their Fall 2020 Release includes the following:

  • 2018 Ridgetop Vineyard Pinot Noir — 94 Points
  • 2018 Riddle Vineyard Pinot Noir — 94 Points
  • 2018 Reuling Vineyard Pinot Noir — 93+ Points
  • 2018 Wohler Vineyard Pinot Noir — 93 Points
  • 2018 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir — 92 Points
  • 2018 Reuling Vineyard Chardonnay — 95 Points
  • 2018 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay — 93 Points
  • 2017 Oakville Ranch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — 93 Points
  • 2017 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon — 92 Points

Sojourn is offering 10% savings on case purchases (12 or more bottles), as well as ground shipping included within the United States for purchases of six bottles or more. Get ’em before they are gone. See more information at sojourncellars.com.

Story by Tech Director/Writer Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

  • West End Bar & Kitchen in Del Mar is presenting a blockbuster Caymus Vineyards Napa Valley Wine Dinner, Wednesday-Friday, Sept 23-25, starting at 6 p.m. Caymus has earned a reputation for the highest quality and consistency for 50 years. The main course will be Amalfi Flat Iron Steak, served with a Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Full five-course dinner and wines are $70 per person plus tax and gratuity. Call 858-259-5878 to reserve dates.
  • Market Restaurant + Bar in Del Mar is now open for indoor dining. Enjoy Market’s three-course tasting menu for $70 per person. Reservations are mandatory. Dinner is served 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Please call 858-523-0007.

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