The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

The trifecta pays off in the world of wine

Trifecta is a thing of beauty in the horse tracks of America. You make a wager on three races, naming the race and the horse that will come in a winner. This takes creativity and a certain amount of bravado to come home on top, with an oversized payoff for your gamble.
I find that same amount of risk and reward in the new breed of wine shop personalities who have opened their doors and offered what I call a “trifecta” for the wine consumer. Here are some winners worth betting on.
Downtown Carlsbad was the location chosen by a former wine wholesaler-turned-retailer, Rene Fleming, for her new enterprise. It’s a wine shop with a “trifecta” format of wine bar, wine sales by the bottle and small bites rustic menu of hot, fresh food that pairs well with the wines offered. 
She named the shop RELM, meaning “Really Enjoy Laugh More.” Rene, along with support staff Sherry Martin and Katie Murray, spins the magic. From wine appreciation classes and fresh tasting ideas, to artists and jazz musicians, RELM keeps customers coming in and staying to enjoy their “trifecta.” Visit for more information.
Over in San Marcos, the master blaster orchestrating his version of the “trifecta” is James Allyn at Canape’s. James sold North Country Wine Company across the street and built out Canape’s in the San Marcos Restaurant Row. 
It too is one part retail wine shop, one part wine bar and one part small bite restaurant. Canape’s plugs in a fourth part with a major schedule of entertainment. From blues to flamenco, you’ll hear it all while you sip on your pinot noir. 
You can attend a “black tie” Oscar party Feb. 27 for a live telecast starting at 5 p.m. Several trivia and other contests make it a winner. Call (760) 510-2088 for an RSVP and other details.
In Rancho Santa Fe, the place to see and be seen is Dolce Pane E Vino with Steve Flowers managing. Italy never looked so beautiful as this posh wine bar, rustic dining, living room and wine bottle retail creation with Tuscan surrounds. Another intimate touch, you can sit across from the chef and chat about your menu choice while it’s being cooked for you. Visit www.dolcepanee for details.
Finally I have to include the WineSellar & Brasserie with Gary Parker the owner. Hard to find in the Sorrento Valley industrial area but wow! Amazing collection of wines and a small sit down restaurant that has been honored by Wine Spectator Magazine with its Grand Award for best wines with food since 1989.
Other area restaurants that have converted to the “trifecta” format include Sage Grill in Encinitas, San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, PAON in Carlsbad and VINZ Wine Bar & Tasting Room in Escondido.
Wine news to use
I hope you have tried FLAVOR, the new restaurant in the Del Mar Plaza, with a view of the Pacific to die for.
A first-step into the dining room from the remarkable front entrance and bar area gets an A-rated “WOW” for its expansive view of the Pacific from nearly every table. The sweeping window is about a 180-degree panorama. It’s all well and good, but the wine and food is really what FLAVOR is all about. Try one of the extensive collection of half-bottles, a brilliant idea to keep costs down, yet enjoy a premium, memorable wine. And as the name suggests, the menu is seasonal and as fresh as today with all ingredients working to enhance the flavor of the menu selection. See more FLAVOR at
Lovely pinot noir in Temecula Wine Country? Yes, from Woodworth Vineyards, a micro-winery in the De Luz hills west of Temecula. Its 2008 vintage was one of 64 to be featured at the recent Pinot Noir Summit in San Francisco. These grapes are grown at the winery, where warm days and cool nights, embellished with coastal fog, make it a reliable growing ground for Woodworth. The wine is available at The Collective in Old Town. Visit for more information.
Wine Bytes
— San Diego Wine Company has a French wine tasting scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 26. There is a $10 tasting fee. Call (858) 586-WINE for details.
— Mike Grgich, pioneer Napa Valley winemaker, is the Vintner Hall of Fame member appearing at Morgan’s at the La Quinta Resort and Club’s next benefit wine dinner at 6 p.m. Feb. 26. Tickets are $175 each. For an RSVP, call (760) 564-7600.
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas will be featuring Italian wines from 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 26. Cost is $20. Call (760) 479-2500 for names.
— Blind Taste like a pro 101 at a class at La Costa Wine Company from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Feb. 26. There are five different styles of wine. Cost is $40. For details, call (619) 955-8884.