Last weekend started with a relaxed cup of coffee crafted with my newly acquired Chemex coffeemaker and delicious beans by 49th Parallel out of Canada. One of my favorite coffee shops in town, Bean Bar sources their beans at their shop and it’s great being able to procure them locally at a fair price point without paying for shipping. My good friend Scott was nearby and we decided to check out the start of the AMGEN Tour of California (think Tour de France, but here in the states) and finally take advantage of the San Diego Urban Winery passports we’ve had for almost a year.
May Gray was in full effect at Balboa Park and it was great to catch a bit of the race as it rolled through the neighborhood along with the many cycling enthusiasts who came out to watch the cyclists, some of whom had caught the beginning of the race in Mission Bay. I took a particular liking to this penny-farthing bike that was as tall as I am. I can’t imagine riding them.
If you’ve checked out my Instagram in the past few years, you know that I’m definitely a craft beer enthusiast, beer geek if you will, but my first love has always been wine. My college friend Jill was a big lover of the grape and although it took a few tries to convince me, slowly I became a fan. We have over 100 breweries here in San Diego County, and although we’re not Napa, we have over 100 wineries here as well.
Our first destination of the day was San Pasqual Winery just east of San Diego in La Mesa. It’s a small suburb with no vineyards to speak of. Unlike the sprawling vineyards you may be used to when it comes to wineries, San Pasqual is an urban winery that sources their grapes elsewhere and produces wine in an industrial park not far from an interstate. We almost drove right past the facility, which is near a couple of breweries, Bolt, and Helix. They’re close enough that you can easily do a wine & beer crawl on a weekend.
A big advantage of small wineries like San Pasqual as opposed to big tourist-oriented wineries in Napa and nearby Temecula is that you’ll be speaking with someone who’s much more knowledgeable about the wines themselves and is eager to engage. At San Pasqual, the person who was pouring the wines(I hate that I can’t remember his name) was eager to discuss the wines, answered my questions about the grapes sourced south of the border in the Valle de Guadalupe, as well as discuss the vineyards throughout San Diego County and California. We had a chance to get a barrel sample of their famous passion fruit wines as well as taste the finished product from a bottle.
My favorites included an albarino made with San Diego fruit, a Rhone blend sourced from the Sierra Foothills, an Amador County zinfandel and passion fruit “Roselle” wine with added hibiscus, raspberry spiced with habaneros. Yes it sounds a little odd, but trust me, it’s one of their hottest sellers. I’ve tried a ton of cloyingly sweet wines in Georgia and there’s a big difference in what they’re doing here. Although we visited the production facility in La Mesa, they also have a tasting room + gallery in the heart of La Mesa, as well as a tasting room popular with tourists near downtown San Diego at Seaport Village.