A Wine Walk in San Carlos, California. #WineWednesday


Have you ever been to San Carlos, California? I will admit, I had not even heard of this fun, contemporary town until my “Fresh As it Gets” media tour in San Mateo County last month. Located right in the middle between The San Francisco Peninsula and San Jose, San Carlos is a humble community of about 30,000 and, as of late, is building up their name in a little industry called…..WINE.

I was a bit surprised, and very intrigued, to find out that our wine and beer walk with my IFWTWA peeps would take us to the streets of San Carlos to experience their wineries and brewery.

Beginning our journey on Washington Street, we arrived at Cuvee Wines and I must say, I was immediately a fan as their modern, loud colors to their couches and decor was very Mary approved….

I always appreciate the clever use of displaying barrels……so inviting, no?!

Cuvee has built their following with releasing several Bordeaux inspired wines that do bring to mind what we love about the French reds, while you can also appreciate the California roots brought to you from Cuvee owner, Paul Rogerville.

Starting out with a Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, I chose this white as it was produced in stainless steel, and, I have found that repeatedly is my jam. This was an interesting glass since on first nose it had stronger, vibrant notes; especially of lemon and tropical fruits. On my first sip? Much more mellow, a bit too light for my taste, even.

Realizing I was in the mood for something more on the bold side, I gravitated towards a ’11 Merlot. It made me absolutely CRAVE a great pizza. This Merlot had jam and preserve notes after a swirl and sniff, then, downright pungent notes of cheese on the palette, with some subtle pepper-y moments. It was a heavenly red!

While I thought that was THE red for me that day, and it would be hard to find another favorite….who was I kidding? We were only at stop #1 and now on our way to visit Russian Ridge Winery. An adorable “Hole in the wall” style winery, The Townsend Family opened up shop on Washington Street in 2011 and have been producing around 1,000 cases of wine a year ever since.

Spencer, Joan and Dwayne Townsend.
Spencer, Joan and Scott Townsend.

The Russian Ridge’s 2012 Concerto quickly took over my heart. A Cabernet dominant red blend of the 5 Bordeaux varietals, this blend made me feel at home. Bold? Yes. Huge? Nope. Just right. Good, full-bodied, yet great even if you’re not in search of a particularly bold glass. The addition of Merlot to even out the tannin’s is brilliant, and leaves you with a slight spiciness, and some fruit.

The Townsend’s truly know how to make their customers feel at home and usually you will always have at-least 2 of the family members on hand to answer any wine-y questions you may have, or keep you in the loop on the latest San Carlos skinny.

Next up we headed to the adorable and family friendly Flying Suitcases Wines. I cannot think of a better winery for a group of travel writers to visit! Flying Suitcases is all about celebrating life and adventure. With bright, air-y colors to their walls, and travel quotes to go with their Hans Christian Anderson inspired name, Owner Vikki Vinther and her husband came to San Mateo from Denmark and decided to open a winery that would be perfect for people like themselves: Parents!

While mom and/or Dad can sit back and relax with a glass of their Nostalgia (Chardonnay) or Wanderlust (Zinfandel…did I mention all their labels have fun names?!) the kids can check out their play room with plenty of books and toys to keep them busy.


Adults and kids alike love the paintings at Flying Suitcases

After so many great wines, we decided to change things up a little and head to Devil’s Canyon Brewery. I was so impressed with the size of this brewery. Gotta love its humble beginnings as a warehouse! Boasting a stage that makes it a great concert venue, Devil’s Canyon also has access to a handy alley way that has become the Friday go-to in San Carlos to catch a food truck or two!

While most wineries in town are only open on weekends, Devil’s Canyon is open solely on Fridays while the other six days a week are reserved for crafting and brewing their award-winning beers. While you can’t grab a cold one too often at the brewery, not to fear: Devil’s Canyon beers are the ales of choice in San Mateo County and distributed locally! ūüėČ

Are you still with me?! We’ve got one more awesome spot to go! After we said our goodbye’s at the brewery, we took a quick stroll over to Domenico Winery. From their website:

Dominick and Gloria Chirichillo‚Äôs choice of name for their winery is a reflection of their commitment to their Italian heritage and the tradition of family winemaking. Dominick (Domenico in Italian) was introduced to these traditions by his Nonno (grandfather), Domenico Giovinazzo in New York in 1955. In the basement of their home was a wine-press that Nonno showed Dominick, passing down from one generation to another the love of handcrafting wine. For the love of his Italian heritage, Dominick specializes in Cal-Italia varietals; Primitivo, Aglianico, Montepulciano, Barbera, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Nero d’Avola and Sagrantino. Domenico currently produces more than 20 varietals.

Dominick’s passion for wine making took him from amateur competitions while he lived on the East Coast, to commercial status after moving to Northern California. Moving to California has enabled Dominick to choose his grapes hands-on from selected vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma’s Central Coast, Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Amador County and the Lodi District. In 2001 Dominick established his own vineyards in Amador County, where he planted 5 acres of Syrah and 3 acres of Primitivo that go into his award-winning, hand-crafted wines. Additionally, he is a member of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, where he sources Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. As of 2016, the wines of Domenico have won 350 Medals for wines produced from these various regions!

Like Devil’s Canyon, Domenico got its start as an “Ugly, empty warehouse” (Chirichillo‚Äôs words) and can easily hold a party or event in a unique, dimly lit setting as you enjoy your award-winning vino’s.

We were also treated to a fun tour of where he magic happens and the wines are made, as well as chatting with one of Domenico’s team members, Matt Hall, while he literally made wine!


Yes, I may have tried this straight from the bin!
Yes, I may have tried this straight from the bin!

If you find yourself up in Northern California, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to some or all of these wonderful bars. Its a labor of love and you can truly taste it in every glass! Huge thank you to all of the above San Carlos establishments who made this day possible. xo