The Coast News Group
Tres Goetting, left, winemaker at Robert Biale Vineyards of Napa Valley, pours the 2014 “Black Chicken” Zinfandel for wine columnist Frank Mangio. Photo courtesy Frank Mangio
CommunityTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Sipping and tasting in the woods of Torrey Pines

In the era of urban-this-and-urban-that, I am here to comfort you that it doesn’t have to be that way for excellent wine and food hospitality in the San Diego region.

We all should know that the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course is internationally known, located on a pristine miles-long bluff between Del Mar and San Diego.  The nearby Torrey Pines State Reserve captures this region for public hiking and gazing at these magnificent trees and the inspiring Pacific Ocean.

Nestled in this bucolic environment is the Lodge at Torrey Pines, a five-diamond hotel, featuring its latest exciting development, The Grill.

A Reserve Raymond Napa Chardonnay is a lovely companion to the poached pear salad at The Grill at Torrey Pines. Photo by Frank Mangio
A Reserve Raymond Napa Chardonnay is a lovely companion to the poached pear salad at The Grill at Torrey Pines. Photo by Frank Mangio


A.R. Valentien is their signature restaurant, but The Grill has an indoor-outdoor romance and an exclusive view of the golf course in the intimate woods of Torrey Pines.

The Grill is an inviting stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and is under the direction of Executive Chef Jeff Jackson, who is credited with creating the movement in San Diego called “farm to table” back in the early 2000s.  His Sous Chef de Cuisine is Kyle Wiegand, who has been with Jackson for 14 years.

“We increased space some 30 percent inside and outside with the focal point being a large outside rotisserie where the entrees are grilled before being served,” Wiegand explained. “Local sustainable farm to table, with a California Coast and Baja style woodfire menu, is what our customers can expect at The Grill.  Our executive chef Jeff Jackson lets the ingredients speak for themselves through their unbeatable flavor.”


With the trees, rocks and foliage surrounding some tables centered around oversized fireplaces and fire pits, the enticing menu takes over.  My recommendations include: Poached Pear Salad with Arugula, Endive, Candied Pecans and Roquefort Cheese, washed down with a Raymond Napa Valley 2013 Chardonnay.

The best example of the Santa Maria style rotisserie is the lead entrée: a Wood-Grilled Tri-Tip Steak with Pinquito Beans Cassoulet, salsa and homemade steak sauce.  Try this with the Napa Valley Jamieson Ranch 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. The sous chef’s recommendation is the Wood Smoked Pork Chop with market greens, sweet potato, roasted apples and cider jus.

For more information, call (858) 453-4420 or visit


The Lodge at Torrey Pines-Celebrate The Craft

A few weeks before The Grill familiarization, I covered the 14th annual Celebrate The Craft, on the grounds of the Lodge at Torrey Pines. SoCal’s finest chefs led by Jackson, food artisans, produce, wine and craft beers, all contributed. The golf course and the Pacific Ocean formed the backdrop.

The Lodge’s Sommelier Paul Krikorian hand picked the mostly Napa Valley wines to taste, including: Robert Craig, ZD, Grgich Hills and Nickel and Nickel. An impressive up-and-coming Robert Biale Vineyards caught my eye with his “Black Chicken,” 2014 Zinfandel ($49.95), and the “Royal Punisher,” 2014 Petite Sirah Rutherford ($49.95).

Robert Biale is located just north of Napa city in the Oak Knoll District. Zin and Petite Sirahs are rare choices in Napa Valley. This Zin is stunningly fleshy and chewy with a powerful delivery. The Petite Sirah has exploding aromas of plum and fig, with rich, black fruit flavors.

See more at


Wine Bytes

PAON in downtown Carlsbad has a holiday wine tasting Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. featuring French Cru choices from the Cellar Master formerly at the University of Bordeaux, Gino Campbell.  Some of the first growth Crus reportedly goes for $1,000 a bottle. Call (760) 729-7377 for more details.

Wine Vault & Bistro on India Street San Diego has a 10-course tasting menu paired with their “Top 5 Reds of 2016,” Dec. 29 from 5 to 10 p.m.  Cost is $57.50.  Call (619) 295-3939 for an RSVP.

A New Year’s Eve dinner is being planned at the Meritage restaurant at Callaway Vineyard and Winery in Temecula Dec. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m.  Cost is $75 per person; includes a four-course meal with live music.  RSVP by calling (951) 587-8889.

Pala Casino Spa & Resort has several New Year’s Eve dinners Dec. 31. The Oak Room has a price fixed menu for $109; $140 with wine pairings. CAVE has a New Year’s Eve menu with a fixed price of $69, or $89 with wine pairings.  And Pala Café has dinner for $36.95 per person.  Call for an RSVP with your choice, at (877) 946-7252.


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.