Photo by Jen Van Tieghem
La Mesa might not spring to mind as a hip neighborhood for small-production beverages, but it should. An industrial part of the city has quietly transformed itself into a sanctuary for sipping, with two breweries, a full-blown winemaking operation and now a cooperative wine tasting room called La Mesa Wine Works (8167 Center St.).
The tasting room features the wines of two San Diego County wineries: San Pasqual, which crafts wine just down the block, and Wyatt Oaks, which makes its wines in Escondido.
La Mesa Wine Works features more than a dozen wines by the glass ($7 to $9) and by the bottle ($18 to $30). Or, you can opt for a $10 flight of three wines to get familiar before committing; the only drawback is you have to choose three pours from a single winery.
As I’m very familiar with San Pasqual’s wines (shout out to the Seabreeze white blend) I went with a flight from Wyatt Oaks and chose its Zinfandel Rosé, Agrifolia—a red blend— and Primitivo. But my wine-drinking cohorts shared their flights and I got to taste everything on Wyatt Oaks’ list.
The wines were all pleasant, with the Zinfandel Rosé and the rich Cabernet Sauvignon topping my list. Perhaps it’s the warm weather but I simply can’t get enough Rosé these days and went home with a bottle. It is a beautiful cranberry color, a bit darker than most. The nose is light and fruity while the flavor is tart and full of apple notes.
The location and ambiance of Wine Works is an added bonus to the tasty wines. Tables inside filled quickly with small groups when I visited on a Saturday evening, as a band was preparing to play. The patio is also inviting, with hanging lights and a wall covered in flowering vines blocking out the setting sun’s heat. Plus, the tasting room is located between the area’s breweries if you want to experience more of La Mesa’s beverage boom.
La Mesa Wine Works will hold a weekend-long grand opening celebration Oct. 14 to 16, starting with a ticketed winemakers’ reception on Friday. Saturday will feature vendors who make and/ or sell wine-related crafts as well as live music and a food truck. There will also be games such as bocce ball and a beanbag toss set up on the patio. The details for Sunday’s festivities are still in the works. Get more info at LaMesaWineWorks.com.