Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The Wine Bank
5th and J, San Diego

The recently renovated Wine Bank first opened in the 1960s. Upstairs visitors encounter wine, beer, and spirits selected with the Gaslamp’s many tourists in mind.

There are souvenir-worthy San Diego County wines from Salerno and Fallbrook. The downstairs area houses an impressive, international collection of wines and a large tasting room where distributors and winery representatives pour and discuss. Guests sit at tables, and – after a brief introduction – are invited to step up and sample the day’s offerings. A representative of Handley Winery in Anderson Valley (near Mendocino, CA) introduced us to the nearly 30-year-old boutique winery and its surroundings. She poured six wines, including three impressive Pinot Noirs. Our favorite was a 2006 that mingles grapes from six Anderson Valley vineyards.

This tasting was unlike anything we’ve encountered. It felt a bit awkward at first, with thirty-odd people lining up at once to claim their first taste. But as the event progressed, guests’ visits to the bar fell into a more comfortable, less crowded rhythm. We enjoyed chatting with our tablemates as we compared vintages. The Wine Bank holds tastings on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. We strongly recommend calling ahead for details, making a reservation, and arriving at the beginning of the allotted time period.

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