Taste of Wine: New owners at Witchcreek Winery will revitalize Carlsbad Village

Taste of Wine: New owners at Witchcreek Winery will revitalize Carlsbad Village
Witchcreek winemaker Ryan Scott and new co-owner Skip Coomber display the winery’s popular 2013 Zinfandel El Dorado, shown in front of the wildly attractive “Sleeping Tiger” outdoor wall mural. Photo by Frank Mangio

Carlsbad’s my hometown. The city has more success stories than any other in the San Diego County area by anyone’s yardstick.  Beautiful beaches, resorts, restaurants, a state-of-the art water purification plant and we’re on the threshold of a new Nordstrom with accompanying pristine shops and open trails.

Shifting the focus to the downtown area of Carlsbad, a big piece of this puzzle has been put in place when news broke exclusively to TASTE OF WINE that a sale had been finalized for Witchcreek Winery on Coast Highway 101, just a few blocks from the beach and downtown Carlsbad Village.

The wine community knows the new co-owners well, and the fit is perfect to revitalize this urban winery and the village.

The co-owners are Mayur Pavagadhi and Skip Coomber.

Pavagadhi is Carlsbad’s affable restaurateur and owner of PAON, PAON Wine Bar, 83 Degrees and Barrio — all of which are in Carlsbad Village and just a few blocks from Witchcreek Winery.

Coomber has guided Coomber Family Wines to its place as the premium San Diego-based wines, with Cabernet grapes that he sources from the most famous vineyard in Napa Valley. Combined, these two entrepreneurs are setting the bar high with their ideas for a new and greater Witchcreek.

Skip Coomber,left, and Mayur Pavagadhi are the new owners of Witchcreek Winery on the gold coast of Carlsbad. Photo by Frank Mangio

Skip Coomber,left, and Mayur Pavagadhi are the new owners of Witchcreek Winery on the gold coast of Carlsbad. Photo by Frank Mangio

As Coomber describes it, “Mayur and I have a growing friendship. One day last summer he called me with this opportunity and wanted me to be a partner and build on the current legacy of Witchcreek.  We both agreed that it was a solid business as the oldest urban winery in Southern California, (20 years at the Carlsbad location) with a young and passionate winemaker in Ryan Scott, who had come in from the MiraCosta College wine program as an intern in 2011 and taken charge in 2013.

“He has been producing 24 different wines a year, with about 19 varietals sourced from throughout California and the Guadalupe Valley in Mexico.

Mayur is adding Master Sommelier Gino Campbell from PAON to advise, along with Steve Barr for operational help.”

I asked him what improvements he sees on the horizon.

“We need better lighting along with bigger bar space.  We have a 7-foot chandelier on its way, along with much more table space inside and out for wine education, tasting and small bites, along with space for us to produce and build on our current 750 member wine club. The Carlsbad Village Beautification Committee had a colorful ‘Sleeping Tiger’ mural painted on our outside wall and we want to create a new label of wines named after it.”

Witchcreek has had a long history of making quality, small production wines, many of them old-world varietals not that well known.

A good starting point for your introduction to this urban winery would be their Zinfandel with grapes from the up-and-coming El Dorado wine country near Sacramento.  The 2013 had only 115 cases made.  It is a lush full-bodied Zin balanced to perfection ($40).

TASTE OF WINE will be reporting more on this vital new urban winery, now raising another star in the Village of Carlsbad.  Call for more at (760) 720-7499 or visit WitchCreekWinery.com.

Wine Bytes

The first great event of the year in the Temecula Valley happens Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  It’s the Annual Barrel Tasting, a self-guided tour where guests will enjoy barrel tastings, new wine releases and food sampling, offered at each of the wineries over a two-day period; 16 different wineries per day. Tickets are $78; two-day tickets are $128.  Click on to temeculawines.org for details and to purchase tickets. Ticket pickup is by will-call between 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Information also by calling (800) 801-WINE.

Stehleon and Vespar Vineyards urban winery in Escondido are presenting a cellar tasting with the winemaker, Jan 23 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Taste wines at various stages of aging;  $25.  Call (760) 741-1246.

Vittorio’s Trattoria in Carmel Valley has a wine dinner featuring Seghesio wines of Sonoma, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m.  Cost is $49.50.  RSVP at (858) 538-5884.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View his columns at tasteofwinetv.com and reach him at mangiompc@aol.com.  Follow him on Facebook.

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