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Tuesday, November 16, 2010


THE PLACE:  Carruth Cellars (web)
THE STORY:  Local winemaker opens a full blown winery on Cedros Ave in Solana Beach
THE VIBE:  Feels like Napa

A lot of people think I've been too hard on Temecula, but I don't think so.  I love wine, I love wine tasting, and Temecula just misses the mark on both.  Their wines are average at best and the wine tasting experience typically involves fighting Girls Gone Wild bachelorette limo parties for a space at the bar.  I mean, it's pretty rare that I find a wine I love so much that I yell "WHOO HOOOO" in the winery, but that's pretty much the scene on any weekend in Temecula.

That's why I was so happy to find this place.  Carruth Cellars is located in the Cedros Design District in Solana Beach, one of my favorite places to go when I have nothing to do, especially on a Sunday afternoon when there's a Farmers Market.  We had just gotten back from Napa and Sonoma (have you seen my site on Napa yet?) and I was having wine tasting withdrawals, so up the driveway we went.  Keep going, it's all the way in the back.

Wow, this place looks like a real winery!  OK wiseguy, let me explain.  A lot of wineries, especially in T-town, look less like wineries and more like retail stores that just happen to sell wine.  I love boutique wineries with the barrels (not props) and giant vats of fermenting grapes (very young wine) in the same room as the tastings.  For $10 you get 4 or 5 pours, plus you get to keep the glass - and it's a Ridel glass, too.  So who is this guy who makes wine in a beach town?

Winemaker Adam Carruth is a local guy, a Carlsbad High School grad who started making wines as a hobby.  He sources his grapes from Northern California's coast and makes the wines right here on Cedros.  Now even though I write a website on Napa, I'm no wine expert - but I know enough to know when I hit on a wine I love, and that darn Pinot would make your mama cry it's so good.  In fact, all of their reds were every bit as nice as the wines we tasted in Napa, and that includes some that cost $100 or more.

And isn't it cool that Adam the winemaker was right there pouring the wines for the tasters? Now here's a tip - if you're a visitor and you find yourself doing the North County Experience, make sure you stop in for a taste.  But if you're a local, go one step further and join their wine club.  You'll get two bottles for $50 every other month, you'll get 20% off all purchases, and you'll get FREE TASTINGS!  Come on, what's better than stopping in at a winery before dinner, tasting a few, then grabbing a bottle to take with you to open later that night?  Answer - nothing!  You'll also impress your friends, the ones who keep pestering you to go to Temecula!  

(Local Tip:  Cicciotti's down the street has no corkage fee).

If you love wine, if you think you love wine, if you just want something fun to do, make sure you stop in at Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach.  It's just like Napa, only a lot closer.

Don't forget to visit Local Wally's Guide to Napa as well as my guide to San Diego for local tips!  And tell your friends about this blog and my sites!

1 comment:

Frances W. said...

I almost stopped reading when I saw the words Temecula and wine, which don't go together! I couldn't agree with you more. Nicely written. Well done.