Thursday, June 28, 2012


Friday touring requires a bit of preparation as some tasting rooms are only open on weekends. Here's a lineup we put together to introduce our friend Edgar,  visiting from Seattle, to San Diego County wines and some memorable scenery.

We started the day at the Blue Door Winery tasting room in Julian. After six years, winemaker Marc Hashagan is in the business full time, and the wines reflect his skill and attention. We loved the newly released Press Cuvée, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Barbera. And on its own, the 2009 Barbera is a winner. Kameron is a wonderful tasting room host - knowledgeable and welcoming. We always have a good time here.

Next we drove up the road to see Mel at  J. Jenkins Winery. She was pouring a new Vin Gris de Syrah - perfect for a hot day, and a nice 2009 Sauvignon Blanc with notes of grapefruit and melon. Moving on to reds, the current standouts are a smoky 2005 Syrah and the newly released 2010 Merlot - dry and full bodied, with a complex spectrum of flavors.

Outside the J. Jenkins tasting room
Heading towards Ramona, we spread our picnic on the patio at Milagro Farms Vineyard and Winery, where tasting room manager Kyle and marketing manager Audrey kindly served us each a flight. We can't seem to leave this place without (at least) a bottle of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Vines at Milagro

We'd made an appointment to visit Marilyn and Steve Kahle's Woof 'n Rose Winery, tucked away on a hillside overlooking the Ramona Valley. A lot is new since the last time we stopped by, including a delicious 2009 Highland Valley Merlot, 2009 Eglantine (Cab. Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon), and 2009 Estate Cabernet Franc. Steve and Marilyn were the first to grow Cabernet Franc in Ramona; their award-winning wines are clear evidence that this was a good idea!

Modest about their success, the Kahles told us they never stop learning about viticulture and wine making, stressing the importance of belonging to other wine clubs (to avoid "cellar mouth" - developing a narrow palate for one's own wines) and a spirit of cooperation among the region's grape growers and winemakers.

To end the day we stopped in to see Rose and Herman Salerno at their winery. In contrast to the bustling weekend scene, late on a Friday afternoon it was quiet enough to visit with the Salernos while we tasted Herman's excellent red wines, all made without added sulfites. Our favorite is (still) the 2007 Lagrein. We left with a bottle, plus two giant zucchinis from the garden. 

Blue Door Winery Tasting Room
2608 B Street, Julian
Open Thursday - Monday noon-5

J. Jenkins Winery
1255 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian
Open Thursday - Sunday 11-5

Milagro Farms Vineyard and Winery
18750 Littlepage Road, Ramona
Open Friday - Sunday 11-5

Woof 'n Rose Winery
17073 Garjan Lane, Ramona
Open by appointment

Salerno Winery
17948 Highway 67, Ramona
Open Wednesday-Sunday 11-6 (or later)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GRAPE CONNECTIONS tasting room & wine shop

Bob Gelman has been in the wine business for 30 years. He etablished this cozy wine shop on Scott Street in Point Loma in 2000, stocking a sophisticated and well priced collection of wines from around the world, including San Deigo County. There are always some nice bottles open for tasting between noon and 6pm daily. On a recent visit we especially enjoyed a 2006 Diamond Terrace Napa Cab.

The tasting bar

Bob has recently become the exclusive U.S. importer and distributor of Domaine du Grand Crès estate wines from the Languedoc region of France. There's a steel tank-fermented Roussane/Viognier blend, a soft, delicate "Cuvee Classique" (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault), a spicy, full-bodied "Cuvee Majeure" (Syrah, Grenache), and an easy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon. As is true of the other wines at Grape Connections, the Domaine du Grand Crès line offers excellent value for the price.

Loyal customer patiently await "Bob's Big Blowout Sale," with deeply discounted wines from about forty different producers, all available to taste before you buy.

Grape Connections is open Monday-Saturday 10am - 7pm.
1130 Scott Street, San Diego