The Coast News Group
Victor Magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s Restaurant, presents Miner Family Winery of Napa Valley, with the collaboration of Mindy Hewitson, sales manager of the Estates Group of San Diego. Photo by Frank Mangio
CommunityTaste of Wine

Taste of Wine: The winner for best wine dinners: Vittorio’s

Victor Magalhaes is the first to greet his customers at his family-style, Italian restaurant, Vittorio’s, in the burgeoning Carmel Valley community just below Del Mar.

Diners come from all over the county to enjoy the Italian food — much of it made from scratch. A unique feature of each entrée is the option of an individual size, or a large size, that will serve two or more diners at a discount. An extensive pasta menu includes: Tortelloni, Linguini, Ravioli, Rigatoni, Gnocchi, Lasagna… well I could go on and on. The pizzas are too extensive to list.

I’d rather list the amazing number of top shelf wineries that Magalhaes has brought in the last year. Month in, month out, with the help of professional wine expert and vice president of the Estates Group of San Diego, Mindy Hewitson, event diners have been treated to a four-course custom dinner with accompanying premium wines.

“I offer these dinners as a kind of thank you to my customers,” he confided. “I also hope that new diners will see the value and introduce themselves to our restaurant family through our wine dinners.”

And a value they are! Most dinners are priced from $49.95 to $55.95 for a fixed custom four-course stylish dinner, with four to five wines generously poured. At times, the winemaker will make an appearance and lead the audience of diners through the vintage and harvest of the wines that are presented.

Hewitson herself knows about as much as the winery owners and can speak from the experience of walking the walk through the vines.

On a recent Miner Family Wines event, Hewitson spoke about the owner, Dave Miner and his beginnings in Napa Valley in 1993.  A former Oracle tech exec, he quit to manage a winery, then started up Miner in 1996.  In 2007, his wines were served in a White House Presidential dinner. She then walked us through Viognier, Chardonnay, Sangiovese and a beautiful red blend, Emily’s Cuvee ($38).

Magalhaes also owns a sister restaurant in Rancho Bernardo, Capri Blu, which also produces excellent wine dinners.

The first wine dinner this year for Vittorio’s will be a panorama of Italian wines Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. Diners will be treated to a four-course dinner highlighted by a Duck confit and fava bean risotto, with shaved Grana Padano cheese.  It will be paired with an Italian Barolo from Piemonte, 2011.  Cost is $55.95 per person.  Be sure to call in a reservation soon at (858) 538-5884.  Visit


Temecula Barrel Tasting 2017

Temecula Wine Country is starting the year out by rolling out the barrels and giving guests a chance to test taste before the vintages get to market.  Current releases will also be poured at their annual barrel tasting, Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  It’s a self-guided tour and tasting.

Up to 18 different wineries per day will pair their best with gourmet food sampling.  Single day “passports” are $78 per day, entitling the holder to up to 18 wineries per day. Two days gets you a discount with tastings from up to 36 wineries.  Go to

Tickets will be sold the day of the event, but the cost will be higher. You can learn how to participate in a shuttle service and other packages at the same web site.


Wine Bytes

Firenze Trattoria in Encinitas is planning an Evening in Tuscany wine dinner with personality Marco Barat, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m.  The wine pairing dinner will choose an exceptional lineup of Tuscan and Sicilian wines with a custom pairing dinner.  Cost is $75.  RSVP at (760) 944-9000.

The 6th annual Winter Wine Classic is at the Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara, Jan. 21 from 4 to 7:30 p.m.  Various prices start at $90. Taste over 200 wine samples plus gourmet food. Visit

Exploring Wine is the next wine course at San Diego State University starting Jan. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m.  It’s a foundation course for further education, part of a Professional Certificate in the Business of Wine.  Cost is $339 or $369 after Jan. 13.  Call (619) 265-7378 for details.

The WineSellar and Brasserie in Sorrento Valley, San Diego, brings in Dragonette Cellars, with founder John Dragonette, Jan. 28 for a 6 p.m. reception and 6:30 p.m. dinner. Dragonette is one of the best wineries in the California Central Coast; $99 per person. Call (858) 450-9557 to make 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.