The Coast News Group
The recent Palomar College Starlit Gala brings together good friends like Debbie King of the Palomar Foundation, Congressman Darrel Issa and Kathy Issa, with Rick Cassoni, professor computer studies at MiraCosta College. Photo by Frank Mangio
Community Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Here and there during California’s Wine Month

The past month or so has been a merry-go-round, with the emphasis on merry.

Both pre-events celebrating Wine Month in California in September, and merry-making in September and its final days have been stuffed with tributes to this great state and its elegant wine industry — 21events to be exact.

I wrote a column on the unique history of California wines presented by Coasterra Restaurant on San Diego’s Harbor Island with the knowledgeable experience of Maurice DiMarino at work.

Some luscious wines at the recent Pala Casino event left guests wanting more at the Trinitas wine booth, with Kasey Rosa the San Diego Sales Manager presiding. Photo by Frank Mangio
Some luscious wines at the recent Pala Casino event left guests wanting more at the Trinitas wine booth, with Kasey Rosa the San Diego Sales Manager presiding. Photo by Frank Mangio

September took me to San Luis Obispo with its heritage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with many of the wineries just a few miles from the brisk fog of the Central Coast, something that Pinot lovers know is the living breathing life- giving nutrition for this quirky grape.

I will get into the details of these two events in a later column.

Two standouts for the wine celebration were the Pala Casino Food & Wine Festival and the Palomar College Starlit Gala featuring Lorimar wines — again just goes to prove that there is a market for wine events in just about any venue.

Pala is a short run from San Diego County and they have recently worked very hard to establish their wine program as a leading one for resorts and casino in the district. Their CAVE underground wine bar and restaurant has caused and increase in interest for wine.  Their first annual Food & Wine Festival drew 50 big names, mostly in California to nearly dovetail with the California wine month theme.

They staged it along with a feast of food sampling from their many restaurants, at a time frame of 4 to 8 p.m. on a Sunday, next to their big-time concert Starlight theatre.

Wines included: Banfi and Santa Margherita from Italy, Oyster Bay from New Zealand, Daou, Justin and Wild Horse from Paso Robles, Dry Creek, J Vineyards and Ferrari Carano from Sonoma and many Napa Valley brands like Beaulieu, Beringer, Robert Mondavi and Trinitas — a creative idea I applauded was the spacious tables and comfy chairs placed so that all of the large guests attendees could sit and spread out their food and wine to their comfort.  Bravo!  Check out more at


Palomar College Starlit Gala chooses Lorimar Wines

Palomar College, in my days when I struggled with two jobs and a night education, provided me with a two-year college degree that I took to San Diego State University to acquire a bachelor’s degree in journalism and advertising with honors.

So it was with great pleasure that I accepted an invitation to their 25th annual gala, with the added pleasure of wines from Lorimar Vineyards and winery in Temecula. The full-house guest list included Congressman Darrel Issa from the 49th District that includes Palomar College.  His wife Kathy Issa was honored with the Comet Award for her philanthropic

Work with education.  Lorimar gifted the school several cases of their 2015 Viognier and the 2012 Cabernet Franc.  I was high bidder on several of their Lorimar Medley 2012 Meritage blends.

At Lorimar, they craft wines that are approachable with a fruit forward style that showcases the Temecula Valley.  This one is 60 percent Cabernet, 20 percent Merlot, along with Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Learn more at


Wine Bytes

The La Jolla Art and Wine Festival celebrate their eight-year event Oct. 8 and Oct. 9 beginning at 10 a.m.  This is a free admission event on Girard Avenue between Torrey Pines Road and Prospect Street.  Baja wines and San Diego craft beers will be featured.  For details, call (619) 233-5008 or visit

A Pride Mountain Vineyards Wine Dinner is planned at West Steak and Seafood in Carlsbad Oct. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m.  These are aged Napa Valley wines with intense flavors.  Five course meal to pair.  Call for an RSVP at (760) 930-9100.

Some great specials and entertainment are on the menu at Tuscany in La Costa Carlsbad.  The weekend brunch lead the way with acoustic pop and live Jazz. VIP fine dining and live Jazz on the first Friday of the month.  Next one is Oct. 7 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. A lot more, at

A night in Sicily is the theme at Barbusa in San Diego’s Little Italy, benefitting Meals on Wheels Oct. 18 from 5 to 9 p.m.  Cost is $85.  A dining and cultural experience waits.  Call (858) 794-6974.


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 and reach him at  Follow him on Facebook.