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Amy Finley | Photo: Courtesy Image | September 23, 2013
As California Wine Month draws to a close, we stop and raise a glass to some of our favorite wine bars, restos and bottle boutiques around S.D. that share in our passion for the grape. Cin cin!
You’ll find Splash Wine Bar smack in the middle of beer-crazy North Park. The petite brick-walled boîte is a favorite for its self-serve Enomatic wine machines and for S.L.O. (Sustainable, Local, Organic) Thursdays, when owner Traci Smith pairs pours with flatbreads and salads made with produce from the nearby North Park Farmers Market. Smith studied under Advanced Sommelier Lisa Redwine of The La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club properties (The Shores, The Marine Room…), and is known for her informed and adventurous palate. Curious about cabernet? Grooving on grüner veltliner? Grab a glass. 3043 University Ave., asplashofwine.com
Our wine geek friends have been singing the praises of Protocol Wine Studio, nested in between the tech start-ups in an unassuming Sorento Valley business park. The studio is a one-stop destination for serious oenophiles, with somm-led classes and tastings, appraisal services, cellar management specialists who help collectors build and maintain their private reserves and a top-notch wine club in Le Metro.Wine.Underground. Befitting their start-up surroundings, every Wednesday Protocol takes to Twitter for #winechat, where each week the social wine program takes on a different vintage, bottle, region or winemaker. #lovingit. 4186 Sorrento Valley Blvd. Suite H, protocolwinestudio.com
Before Estancia La Jolla treated itself to a little $4.8 million enhancement recently, its hacienda-style outdoor-fireplace patio was the place to cozy up with a few friends and a nice bottle of vino. But the refresher transformed a rather dark and off-the-radar bar at the property into the chic Trinitas Cellars Wine Bar, a tasting room where the Napa vineyard’s ultra-premium wines rule the list. Our pick? The 2006 Amarone, the first wine in the cellar’s Family Collection (an international collaborative venture), an Italian red pressed from partially-dried grapes that’s nearly impossible to find in the U.S., but a favorite of Trinitas patriarch, Tim Busch. 9700 N. Torrey Pines Rd., estancialajolla.com
Michael Christian—the winemaker of cult-sensation Los Pilares and wine drinker par excellence—turned us on to bottle boutique Vintage Wines. Specializing in rare and premium wines, the shop has more than 3,000 bottles on offer and a passionate, knowledgeable staff that expertly guides enthusiasts through their selections. Stop by on a Saturday for themed tastings. 6904 Miramar Rd., vintagewinessd.com
Village Vino has become a neighborhood sensation in Kensington, where locals stroll over to the 35-seat wine bar for a bottle and flatbreads, cheese and charcuterie plates and other wine-friendly nibbles. Owner Rita Pirkl was a Napa exec at Chateau Montelena who spent time cooking (and drinking wine) in Italy. In Kensington, she specializes in the stories behind the wines, encouraging guests to try lesser-known wines from farther-flung regions. 4095 Adams Ave., villagevino.com