If you're looking for a high-energy, trendy wine bar, San Pasqual Winery's Tasting Room may not be your best bet. The small business in La Mesa's Downtown Village (8364 La Mesa Blvd.) takes on the sleepy nature that surrounds it, and without a lot of frills and glamour, one can focus on tasting. That's why we came here, right?
In order to try a variety of wines, I opted for a tasting over a single pour. For $8.50, I sampled six wines and even got a souvenir glass. The server explained that the wines are made with grapes from various wine regions in California and the Guadalupe Valley of Baja, but the wine-making takes place locally. I jumped in with a Sauvignon Blanc he said was the best of the three offered. But the flavors of this 2010 iteration, made from grapes out of Lake County, were flowery and bland, so I move on to reds.
Several decent samples stood out. One favorite, the Rhone-style blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (known simply as GSM), was easily drinkable and full of fruity flavors. Another I gave high marks was the 2008 Tempranillo, with grapes from El Dorado County, which boasted rich layers of plum, cherry and a kick of pepper. With the tasting came $5 off a bottle purchase, so I opted to take home the GSM, normally $20.
Dessert wines and an assortment of passion-fruit wines completed the menu, the latter made with no grapes at all. The refreshing, wine-cooler feel of these grapeless wonders suggested they'd be a hit with the soccer-mom set, but they're high in alcohol, so watch out, real housewives of La Mesa.
Overall, the tasting room is a good choice to relax, sip and buy something locally produced. Its location amid antique shops and mom-and-pop eateries make it a fine fit for the quaint La Mesa Village. Plus, San Pasqual is adding another facet to the neighborhood charm by moving its wine-making operation out of Pacific Beach and close to the tasting room (8140 Center St.). They'll celebrate the move on Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23, with a grand opening.