Nov. 27 2013 05:21 PM

Wines are created and enjoyed under one roof in Little Italy

Photo by Jen Van Tieghem

Most local winemaking operations set up shop on the rural outskirts while tasting rooms spring up in well-trafficked areas. San Diego Cellars (2215 Kettner Blvd.) balances both at a quaint spot in Little Italy where wines are both made and served.

Nestled among office buildings and interior-décor shops, the location is just a block from craft-beer juggernauts Bottlecraft and the newly opened Ballast Point Brewing on India Street. San Diego Cellars fills a void for wine-lovers, offering a casual setting in a vibrant neighborhood where guests sample wines by tasting or glass. 

A friend and I opted for a tasting and, for $10 each, selected six wines to try. Not normally a fan of rosé, I let my friend have at the only pink wine on the menu. However, at her coaxing, I took a sip. The rich flavor of Pinot Noir grapes with only a faint sweetness made this one easily drinkable.  

The standouts, for me, lay on the other side of the menu. I tried multiple Syrahs, a Cabernet Sauvignon and an old vine Zinfandel—all of which I enjoyed. The 2009 and 2010 Syrahs topped my list. The 2009 was smooth and tasted like ripe berries and jam. The 2010 had a sharp acidity but held notes of cocoa and pepper. If you're a wine drinker with patience, this would be one to hold on to—also, could you lock a bottle away for me?

One interesting concept here is what they call a CRUzer. Similar to a growler purchased at a brewery, this refillable glass container is an ecofriendly bottle option. Another selling point: the CRUzer is filled to 1,000 milliliters (a bit more than standard 750-milliliter bottles.)

While the modest winery celebrated its grand opening only weeks before my visit, it already has a regular clientele; many patrons knew the bartenders by name and enjoyed their tastings for free as members of the wine club—a perk that convinced my friend and me to split a membership.

Write to and Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_VT.


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