June 10 2016 04:14 PM

Vino Carta in Little Italy combines sipping and shopping

Sommelier Evan Vallée pouring at Vino Carta
Photo by Jeremy Collins

During the last five years, Bottlecraft has become a mainstay of San Diego beer culture. The bottle shop's model combines partaking with perusing to satiate the needs of thirsty patrons at locations in North Park, Little Italy and Liberty Station. Now, owner Brian Jensen has taken that same idea and applied it to wine with the opening of Vino Carta, located in the original Bottlecraft location in Little Italy.

Just like its predecessor, Vino Carta stocks its shelves with a variety of beverages, many from small producers. The store's inventory is divided into new and old world. In the new world you'll find California standbys, including local wines. From the old world, there's a large amount of Italian and French wines along with some from Germany and beyond.

In the "bar" portion of the store, patrons can buy full or half glasses or opt to purchase a bottle from the shelf and pop it open (corkage is $4 for half bottles and $8 for full). The bottles themselves range in price with some as low as $15 and many falling in the $20 to $30 range.

Having just held its grand opening last month, Vino Carta is still ramping things up. Its website now features an online store with local deliveries through Postmates, and pick-up is available. It will also start hosting many tastings in the coming weeks—some with specific winemakers, others focusing on specific regions and still more with guest sommeliers.

The laid back approach combining retail and service shows the trend of the wine world to mirror the successful styles of the beer world. The wines carried here are of good value, and the environment feels casual and inviting. The layout hasn't changed much, but there is more of a home-y vibe to the place now; with wood tables and chairs for small groups, a corner showcasing floral arrangements and succulents by Huntress Florals, and a vintage record player piping in tunes.

Just as with the beer world, if the quality isn't there, neither are the drinkers. Vino Carta is showcasing a good variety at palatable prices. Some of my own favorite brands that I spied on the shelves include Australia's Silkman and California's own Idlewild and Matthiasson. Seems like San Diego's newest wine shop is off to a promising start.

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