Monday, September 5, 2011


La Serenissima Vineyard and Winery does not have a tasting room but winemaker Tony Tiso gladly hosts visitors. We made an appointment with no idea what a treat was in store: a personal tour of nearly the entire winemaking process, with tastes straight from the barrels. Tony and his father John learned winemaking in the Piedmont region of Italy, the land of their roots. They started planting in 1998; once the vines were producing Tony left his high-pressure Silicon Valley job and moved his family southward. He describes La Serenissima’s style as “100-percent old school, like Italy in the 1920s.” All of the wines come from the estate’s 20 acres of grapes. They’re vertically fermented and aged, unfiltered, in French, American, or Hungarian oak. It was amazing to taste how three different barrels impacted the taste of a 2008 Cab-Merlot blend! When the wine is ready to bottle Tony will mix the contents of all three to balance the tannins, bouquet, and aromatics. 

Tony believes that a good wine should be “the sherpa” of food, adding to its enjoyment but not overpowering it. He makes a couple of blends: a popular “entry level” Claret and the Cab-Merlot. With varietals he aims for “true representation” of the grapes, well reflected in his 2007 Cabernet Franc, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Merlot and a citrusy, unfiltered Arneis white – a Piedmont grape we’d never encountered. The first Tempranillo harvest is on the horizon and Tony plans to plant AlbariƱo next year.

La Serenissima's Underground Barrel Room
Visiting La Serenissima is a distinctive learning and tasting experience. The winery does not charge for tasting or sell individual bottles; its business model is wholesale only, with many San Diego County retail and restaurant clients. Visitors may purchase mixed cases of wine at the wholesale price.

La Serenissima is open by appointment. 951.326.0205

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