SOLANA BEACH — Oenophiles, those who aspire to become one or people who simply enjoy wine had a rare opportunity to be a winemaker for a day when Carruth Cellars celebrated the grand opening of its larger tasting room on South Cedros Avenue.
During two separate but identical parties, the June 11 events included barrel tastings, food and live entertainment.
Attendees were also invited to mix varietal blends straight out of the barrel. Additionally, they could purchase limited reserves and order futures of the wines they tasted.
Futures is an industry term for buying wine before it’s in the bottle. Carruth usually sells them once a year, but decided to include its Bordeaux-style blends to help celebrate the urban winery’s “rebirth.”
Owner Adam Carruth, a Carlsbad High School graduate, initially brewed beer as a hobby while attending the University of California Riverside.
“My dad helped me develop an appreciation for wine,” he said. “So I moved to Sonoma for three years. My sister was up there. I started to casually study viticulture. I realized growing grapes was expensive but making a barrel of wine was feasible.”
Carruth moved back to Carlsbad in 2001 and started “trucking fruit” from Northern California to to North County San Diego.
“That’s where I got the slogan, ‘Bringing grapes to the people,’” he said.
Initially he made wine in his backyard, one barrel at a time. Six years ago he opened Carruth Cellars at 320 S. Cedros, where he made and sold his wines, held daily tastings and hosted private parties.
In the limited space he could produce about 100 barrels and 2,000 cases of wine annually. When a larger facility just down the street at 118 S. Cedros became available he decided to make the move, which would allow him to double his output.
After about a year of acquiring permits and renovations the new Carruth Cellars opened early last month.
The original location will be used for private parties that in the past have included everything from corporate events to a birthday party for a dog. A third tasting room will open in Carlsbad Village next month.
Carruth said he likes to keep close to the coast because it’s where he grew up, it’s beautiful and it’s better for aging wine.
Carruth believes in giving back to the community that supports him.
While best-known for his Surfing Madonna wine, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, he also helps other charities, such as Corks for a Cause and the Global Mosaic Project.
The fruits of his labor — award-winning wines and a growing business — have been successful because of “the quality of fruit we bring in and a lot of nice people.”
“And we put a lot of love into the wine we make,” he added.