With the heady scent of high tide at a Carlsbad beach, I entered Witch Creek Winery on the Coast Highway. It had been a while and the news recently from this highly focused Italian style winery was all good. Earlier this year, it had captured Best of Class with its 2006 Nebbiolo at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. That wasn’t all — Witchcreek entered seven wines, and all seven took medals.
Founded in 1993 by the Wodehouse family, the winery also has a tasting room in the mountain town of Julian. In addition to the usual popular wines like Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other household names, a decision was made to source known and lesser known Italian grape varietals from the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada Mexico, long-known for its excellence in growing Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Aglianico.
Pete Anderson, an area specialist in Italian viticulture, works closely with Witch Creek and his winemaker contact at L.A. Cetto in the Mexican wine country, Camillo Magoni, to bring award-winning Italian grape varietals to the U.S. market with price points that are well below wines from Italy.
Although the 2006 Nebbiolo is now sold out, the rave is building for the 2007 vintage. Palate pleasing with huge potential in its blueberry and blackberry combination, this vintage is still in the grip of strong tannins and needs some lay-down time.
If you have a “drink-now” occasion, open it up about an hour before consumption for a mouth-feel that flourishes with the full flavor of true Nebbiolo. Cost at the winery is $35.
Ryan Baker, the eclectic Witch Creek winemaker, is constantly experimenting, trying new combinations and mixes, to come up with the next big thing. His work with the blend of Brunello and Aglianico in the 2006 Due Pastore deserves cheers. Hearty meats will get a flavor boost from this vintage and well as the later 2007 model that mates Aglianico and Montepulciano. They sell for $20. and $23, respectively.
For the latest information and wine releases, visit www.witchcreekwinery.com.
Enjoy your own fine wine at Addison
Addison, the upscale restaurant in the Grand Resort Del Mar, recently was awarded Mobil’s prestigious Five-Star designation. This award really defines the highest standard of excellence in dining establishments. It also announced that on Tuesday and Wednesday dinners, guests can bring in a wine of their own with no corkage fee. This is a first in fine dining in the San Diego market and should be applauded. Customers in that price range often want to share their wines at a dining room of Addison’s stature.
Master Sommelier Jesse Rodriguez wants guests to know that he has brought in private bottlings with Grand Del Mar supervision, in collaboration with some of the best vintners available. “We have been busy making some incredible wine from all over California and Europe with proprietary offerings,” Rodriguez said.
Wine Spectator recently awarded Addison the “Best of Award of Excellence.” Learn more at www.TheGrandDel Mar.com.
— Il Fornaio, in Del Mar and Coronado, continues its Festa Regionale salute to Italy’s culinary regions with Campania dinners and wines, now through May 17. Campania includes Naples, Sorrento and the Amafli Coast, home to Aglianico wines and Limoncello liqueurs. Call the Del Mar location number at (858) 755-8876.
— Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido offers German Rieslings at a tasting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 8. Rieslings are lovely summertime wines from dry to sweet. Cost is $10 with appetizers. Call (760) 745-1200 for details.
— 3rd Corner in Encinitas presents an Italian wine tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. May 9 for $10 each. Learn which labels by calling (760) 942-2104.
— Haciendas de Las Rosas heads up the next elegant five-course winemaker dinner at Café Merlot and Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo starting at 6:30 p.m. May 15. The cost is $85 per person. Reservations can be made by calling (858) 592-7785.
— Paso Robles Wine Country is planning its 27th annual Wine Festival for May 15 to May 17. May 15 is the reserve tasting and May 16 is the Grand Tasting with more than 90 wineries participating. Local chefs also get involved. For ticket information, call (805) 239-8463, or visit www.pasowine.com.
— The Four Seasons Aviara and its wine club invites guests to the fifth annual Around the World Wine Tasting at 6:30 p.m. May 20. Only the best of the best wines are tasted, with food sampling from the resort’s Executive Chef. For more information, call (760) 603-3790.
Over 30 years of communication skills, including broadcast, copy, press relations & strategic marketing support in retail, financial and civic. Owner of Taste Of Wine, a multi-media information and commentary column and internet platform, since 2005. “I count goal-setting, problem-solving and an understanding of the wine communication universe as my strongest professional assets.”