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The Craftsman in Encinitas recently presented Two Shepherds wines from Sonoma. From left, Craftsman Manager Mike Cusey, wine rep Bryan Taylor and winemaker William Allen. Photo by Frank Mangio
ColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: PAON earns Wine Spectator excellence award

The long-awaited 2019 Wine Spectator Magazine Restaurant Awards have been unveiled.  The list includes 3,791 dining establishments recognized as having superior wine lists with three levels of awards based on with strengths, selections, pricing, corkage,  cuisine and wine director professionalism.

All are listed in the issue of Aug. 31. It is literally a guide to restaurants all over the country that have concentrated on high quality wine content with the accent on value. I thought you might like to get a read on the San Diego group of restaurants that were awarded the “Best of Award of Excellence,” on the verge of greatness and hopefully joining the only restaurant in San Diego County to be honored with the top “Grand

PAON Wine Bar & Bistro celebrates their new addition to PAON Restaurant in Carlsbad. From left, Brian Reardon and Robert Vaca, division manager and sales rep for Riboli Family Wine, customer Walt Stringer and PAON Wine Director Kate Edgecombe. Photo by Frank Mangio

Award,” the Addison, at the Fairmont Hotel in Del Mar. Here is the group that captured the “Best Of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Greystone the Steakhouse, Island Prime, Marina Kitchen, Mille Fleurs, Mister A’s, Stake Chophouse and Bar, The Winery (I will review this one next week), The Winesellar and Brasserie and PAON.

PAON in Carlsbad has held a fascination for me for some time now. Managing Partner Steve Barr and President Mayur Pavagadhi have navigated this premier value priced dinner house into a restaurant of many colors. This is the fourth year of their listing of a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. Superior wine offerings have been in the restaurant’s DNA since opening 10 years ago. Recently, Wine Director Kate Edgecombe has placed her hands on a wine list that has grown exponentially to some 650 bottles and over 30 wines by the glass in a new Bistro environment in the bar area, upgraded for an extensive menu, events and entertainment, surrounded by wine racks. Ever-changing weekly wine tastings enliven the atmosphere that’s set for success. See more at, and for a complete list of restaurant wine awards, visit

Two Shepherds wines at The Craftsman in Encinitas

“We make wines that express their sense of place and vintage.” That’s William Allen talking, proprietor of Two Shepherds winery, advocate for the Rhone wine style of France and minimal intervention and manipulation of wine grapes. He gently guides his grapes from grapevine to barrel and on to bottle.

Allen is the president of the Northern California “Rhone Ranger Association.”

They’re a wine group that fervently believes that winemaking is an art, not a science, that guidance is the process that works, and education to the Rhone Valley French style will bring more visibility to the domestic Rhones. His wines are all from Sonoma.

Allen teamed up with The Craftsman and Manager Mike Cusey, who came up with an extraordinary menu crafted by Chef Sergio Serrano. After the first three courses, Cusey brought in a Red Wine & Dijon Marinated Tri Tip with Charred Corn, Potato Puree, Beef Jus and Blue Cheese Butter. It matched beautifully with the Two Shepherds 2014 Pastoral Rouge Blend. Inside the bottle was a Red Rhone Blend of 40% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre and 33% Syrah. The result was bright red Rhone style fruit and savory notes, with no oak characteristics. The website is

Wine Bytes

• Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas is offering an educational class, “Exploring the Wines of Piedmont,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16. Gain a deeper understanding of Italian wine by learning about Piedmont in Meritage’s private Cellar Room with educator Michele Graber. Learn about the killer Bs — Barolo and Barbaresco. One sparkling, two white and three reds will be tasted along with regional cheeses and meats. Cost is $49 each. Call (760) 479-2500.

• Vintana Restaurant in Escondido is presenting Wine on the Lanai from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 17. Enjoy your favorite wines like Justin and J Lohr and gourmet bites of chef-made food, with activities like grape stomping, blind tasting and much more. Tickets are $40 per person advance, and $50 at the door. Call for details at (760) 745-7777. 

• San Diego’s “wildest” tasting event is the San Diego’s Zoo’s Food, Wine & Brew, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sept. 21. This celebration showcases the best in beer, wine and food from over 160 vendors while enjoying the adventure of the zoo. Live music and dancing.  Tickets available now at (619) 718-3000 or visit

Top: The Craftsman in Encinitas recently presented Two Shepherds wines from Sonoma. From left, Craftsman Manager Mike Cusey, wine rep Bryan Taylor and winemaker William Allen. Photo by Frank Mangio