South Coast winemaker Javier Flores, owner Jim Carter and Master winemaker Jon McPherson celebrate another California State Winery of the Year Award. Photo courtesy South Coast Winery Resort and Spa
Community Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: South Coast Winery named state’s Winery of the Year again

For those of us who have been writing on wine in Southern California, watching, visiting and knowing that some day Temecula Wine Country would show its excellence in winemaking, I say that day has come.

I no longer buy the “party wineries” or the “theme park” stories connected with Temecula Wine Country.

The city of Temecula owes a big debt of gratitude to the wineries that have brought in a big surge of wine visitors, including South Coast Winery Resort and Spa as one of the best examples.

A dream of Jim Carter’s, he convinced himself to buy 400 acres in Temecula in 1981, after being inspired by the movie, “A Walk in the Clouds,” and found ways to nurture his land by maximizing water, land and climate.

He brought in expert winemakers who could help him establish the winery’s excellence.

A later chapter of the property would offer villas, a restaurant and a world-class spa to visitors, which he says makes it, “a complete wine country experience.”

South Coast Winery Resort and Spa has been awarded over 2,500 medals for its wines, so it’s really no surprise that, for the fourth time in its history, it brought home the California State Winery of the Year at the California State Fair — this, after only 13 years of wine production.

Carter leaves no doubt that major credit deservedly goes to his winemaker team of Javier Flores, master winemaker Jon McPherson and the winery’s outstanding staff of veteran professionals.  Visit at


Elegance and Style Served Up at Tasting Room Del Mar

In the middle of the Village of Del Mar is a new-age, beautifully appointed tasting room featuring “vines, hops and harvest.”

It’s the exquisite, new Tasting Room Del Mar, with small bites dining, craft beer and a premium wine experience.  More than 40 known and loved craft beers sit side by side with a carefully selected small production collection of over 100 wines.

Tasting Room Del Mar celebrates its grand opening recently with delicious appetizers provided by Service Manager Victoria Abdallah and Champagne by Wine Director Rusti Gilbert. Photo by Frank Mangio
Tasting Room Del Mar celebrates its grand opening recently with delicious appetizers provided by Service Manager Victoria Abdallah and Champagne by Wine Director Rusti Gilbert. Photo by Frank Mangio

It made its debut recently with hosts David and Evan Taylor launching the business, along with Rusti Gilbert, wine director, Executive Chef Steven Loma and Chef de Cuisine Jenny Goycochea.

Gilbert came from the highly acclaimed Addison and most recently The Cork and Craft.  She’s put together a small production boutique wine list with an eye on the seasonal menu for optimum pairing.

The list focuses on France, Germany, Spain and California wines with an emphasis on Rhone varietals from the Central Coast. But as Gilbert says, “The list is still evolving as we discover great new challenging wines.  Syrah and Grenache are big favorites.”

I spotted a couple of personal favorites from Saxon Brown and winemaker-owner Jeff Gaffner.  His home base is Sonoma, but he looks high and low for the best vineyards for his wine grapes.  Check out the 2009 Chardonnay and the 2012 Pinot Noir from Durell Vineyards.  Gaffner will be presenting his wines at a Tasting Room wine dinner July 25.  Contact Tasting Room Del Mar for details at (858) 461-0124.


Wine Bytes

Seasalt Seafood Bistro in Del Mar has a “Night in France” wine dinner planned for July 27 at 6 p.m.  Take a chef’s tour of the top regions of France like Bordeaux, Provence and Burgundy with paired wines.  Cost $54.95 per person.  Call (858) 755-7100 for an RSVP.

Solare at Liberty Station in Pt. Loma San Diego presents wine maker Keith Rolle and his urban winery Gianni Buonomo along with a four-course dinner July 27. Reception begins at 6:15 p.m. and dinner at 6:45 p.m. Cost is $84.  RSVP to Katy Bailey:

WineSellar & Brasserie in Sorrento Valley San Diego has a Walk-Around Rhone Rangers Wine Tasting July 30 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Taste some of the 22 varietals available in the Rhone Valley of France. Cost is $20. RSVP at (858) 450-9557.

TASTE OF WINE will present a seminar for the Sons of Italy Club in Encinitas, at their monthly meeting Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.  We will present the “four S’s” of getting the most out of a taste of wine, wine trends, Italian wines and our recent Top 10 Tastes for 2016. Cost is a $10 donation including a dinner at 6:30 p.m.   RSVP a must by July 28. Visit

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.