Should wine-lovers expect urban wineries to be their new go-to drinking spot? I certainly hope so.
While there is a certain magic and charm of being immersed in wine country – rows of vines across sprawling land – there’s also the inconvenience of getting there and getting around. For me, trips to wine country are special occasions and few and far between.
Living in central San Diego, however, I can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a brewery or bar that caters to beer. I’m not complaining, I just hope the same trend can bring small batch wine to a wider audience.
Négociant Winery is one of several in a group called San Diego Urban Wineries. And their new winery in North Park is in a great location- corner of Texas Street and El Cajon Boulevard, one block east of the Lafayette Hotel. They’ll soon be joined in the area by Vinavanti Urban Winery which is slated to open in Hillcrest in November.
Négociant has just opened its doors and held a soft opening weekend Aug. 21 – 23. So of course I had to stop in. The space has a clean, modern design with a few cozy touches – rustic wood accents, etc. (In fact, my drinking companion threatened to steal a chic arm chair that sat by the window.)
And then we dove into the wines. A flight of 6 was $10 and the sample sizes were about 2 ounces (I’m estimating). Bottles ranged from $16 – $40, glasses were $5 – $12 and their menu of appetizers were $6 – $10. All in all everything was affordable.
Their current lineup is pretty diverse – Chardonnay, Symphony (a clone of Grenache gris and Muscat of Alexandria we soon learned), Red Cuvée (a blend including Zinfandel and several other varietals), Pinot Noir, Primitivo and Sangiovese. After sipping and chatting for awhile we came to realize we hadn’t found a dud in the bunch. Even as non-Chardonnay drinkers, we enjoyed their version immensely!
In the end I had three favorites, all for different reasons:
Symphony: This off-dry wine had the slight nectar quality of a Riesling but with a light acidic finish so that no sweetness remained on the tongue. When we ordered up a cheese board it arrived with aged gouda, creamy blue, manchego and Port Salut – the saltier cheeses were delightful with the touch of honey in this wine. (Plus my gal pal and I nibbled for a while at only $7 – a bargain.) Our winetender (I missed his name but he’s one of the owner’s husbands) suggested the Symphony as a mimosa alternative for brunch (I appreciate anyone who encourages morning drinking).
Red Cuvée: This wine was so easy to drink! For $16 a bottle ($5 a glass) I debated taking this home or following up the Symphony with it.
Primitivo: Our wine-tender equated this one to the Cuvée on steroids. It was indeed more robust with a longer, more flavorful finish.
By the time we’d finished every crumb of cheese, our flights and an extra glass we were more than satisfied. We had asked questions of both owners – Zane and John – (and the helpful husband) and received friendly service and lots of information (Hint, hint: there’s a Rosé in the works). No one was pushy or snobby.
Not to put to fine a point on it but it felt like being in a neighborhood bar, only the wine was a lot better.
Negociant Winery plans to be open at least on weekends for the coming months. A grand opening will take place in October. Follow them on Facebook for more details and if you plan to stop in – invite me along or at least tell them Six One Wine sent you!