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David Fraschetti, left, is the founder and chief cheerleader for the Vin Diego Wine & Food Festival, shown with Taste of Wine travel writers Scott and Nancine Hagner. Photo by Frank Mangio
ColumnsTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Perfect weather-perfect wines at annual Vin Diego

San Diego was again Sun Diego for the sixth annual Vin Diego Wine & Food Festival a couple of weeks back. With temperatures in the mid-80s, the great lawn and pool area at Liberty Station in the Pt. Loma district was wall to wall people, wine, food and music.

When I first met the founder of Vin Diego six years back, he was an ex corporate executive and avid wine lover with nothing but stars in his eyes about his dream of a 100 percent wine event honoring the West Coast as the wine capital of the world. David Fraschetti was a one-man gang determined to launch this idea and it didn’t take him long to figure it out.

After a couple of years of smoothing it out and settling in to an outdoor promenade in Liberty Station, Vin Diego is one classy event.

More than 40 wineries from up and down the West Coast were offering more than 150 tastings of their varietals, from Cabernet to Mountain Zinfandel.

Some of the standout wines that should be on everyone’s most wanted list included:  from Paso Robles, Niner Estates, Opolo Vineyards and San Antonio Winery; from Sonoma, Carol Shelton Wines, Roadhouse Winery, Ferrari-Carano and Goldschmidt Vineyards; and from Napa Valley, Ahnfeldt Wines and Barlow Vineyards.

In my most recent Top Ten Wines Tasted, Katherine Goldschmidt was spotlighted. This 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley of Sonoma is a richly endowed wine with a small but evident taste of dark chocolate from just East of Geyserville. Blackberry and cherry form the backbone of this wine ($16). New Zealand native Nick Goldschnidt cut his wine teeth there, as well as Australia and South America before settling down with his family in Sonoma as winemaker for Simi Wines, then as executive winemaker for a conglomerate of six household name wineries in Sonoma. 

From Napa Valley came Ahnfeldt Wines and longtime friend National Sales Manager Random Hazard, representing owner Bruce Ahnfeldt and Celeste Carducci. Ahnfeldt Wines was celebrating its two new releases, the 2008 Cabernet and the 2009 Provocative Cabernet along with the Carducci 2010 wines. I want to tell you, I had to revisit the Provocative Napa Valley Cabernet ($32.50) several times in the course of my time at Vin Diego. It provoked in me, my deepest desire for delicious fruit-driven Cabernet from the majestic Napa Valley. Measured splashes of other French style grapes was like frosting on the cake.

The Ahnfeldts have been instrumental in restoring Old Town Napa to its greatness with a superb tasting room, Uncorked at Oxbow and a bed and breakfast inn, McClelland-Priest, a Victorian mansion in the central downtown Napa district with Italian-inspired décor and rooms.

Uncorked at Oxbow is a lively, energetic tasting room with a constant stream of events and activities like barrel tastings, blending seminars, food and wine pairings, art and music and above all, the latest Ahnfeldt and Carducci wine releases.

For more, visit or call (707) 253-1139.

Wine Bytes

• A Chardonnay Shootout will be staged at WineSellar & Brasserie in Sorrento Valley, San Diego from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 28, Chardonnay is the best-selling wine worldwide and this event showcases 15 of them. Cost is $35 each, $30 for club members. Call (858) 450-9557.

• The San Diego Vintners Association presents its annual Wine & Food Festival of local award winning wines, from 1 to 4 p.m. April 29 at Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo.  It’s an all outdoor unlimited wine and food tasting with live music and a silent auction.  Tickets are $55. DD tickets are $25. See

• The fourth annual Cinco de Mayo Tacos, Tequila and Beer Festival features eight tequila brands, more than 100 craft beers and lots of tacos from 1 to 5 p.m. May 5 at Liberty Station, Pt. Loma district of San Diego. General admission $35 each, admission at 2 p.m. VIP tickets are $50 each with admission at 1 p.m. Unlimited samples with live music from Azucar, the Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band. Gourmet tacos $3 to $5 each from restaurants and food trucks. Log in to or call (714) 721-2670.

• The Barrel Room in Rancho Bernardo is planning a Taste of Duckhorn, Cheese and Charcuterie Tasting from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. May 12. Duckhorn is a one-of-a-kind Napa Valley wine that scored the No. 1 wine in the world with Wine Spectator last year.  Gourmet cheeses and cured meats add to the event. Cost is $40 each. Visit or (858) 673-7512 to RSVP.

Reach Frank Mangio at [email protected]