It's officially time for the Christmas countdown!
Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, you can't help but get caught up in the holiday spirit – lights are twinkling against our gorgeous California sunsets, the malls are full of specials (and people!) and there's just a certain feel in the air as the days get shorter and cooler.
It's also a great time of year to start switching up your wines. This cooler weather is not only welcome, it lets you consider completely different tastes and flavors! Light and fruity, for example, is nice enough in the heat, but what you really want during a December downpour is a good, bold red or a hearty white.
Luckily, the jamminess and spiciness that chilly weather really demands is readily available from California wines! Here are some good picks for sitting inside and watching the rain fall on a cold San Diego winter's day.
Petite Sirah: This rich, flavorful wine has flavor and then some. It would almost be overpowering on a hot day, but right now is the perfect time to curl up on the couch with a book in one hand and a glass in the other. Try Doce Robles' award-winning Petite Sirah, or Bernardo Winery's Winter Vineyard Petite Sirah (both about $30 a bottle.) Pair a glass with chocolate or rich cocoa. It'll keep that chill at bay!
Pinot Noir: August West is a great vineyard out of San Francisco. The rich lushness of its Pinot Noir has been getting rave reviews, and it's well worth a taste. If you want to buy as local as possible, Orfila's Element 119 Pinot Noir is rich and robust. We recommend pairing either of them with hot chicken soup.
Gewurztraminer: You didn't think we'd forget about white wines, do you? The choice of Gewurztraminer might seem counterintuitive, because its flowery complexity is perfectly suited to hot summer afternoons. But if you find one with enough tannins to balance out the sweetness, you have a bold wine great for pairing hearty fish stew. We recommend Stony Hill's (because they understand the Gewurztraminer love) or one from Orfila, which never seems to go wrong with its Gewurztraminers! About $20.
We love winter, not just because of the changing weather patterns but because of our changing palates and flavor palettes. We're looking forward to tipping back a glass of winter wine with you!
Brooke B., Winter Wine-derland
It's almost holiday season. Well, actually, since holiday season starts right after Halloween these days, we guess it IS holiday season!
This the time of year that we tell all of you how thankful we are for all of you. We couldn't be in this business without you, our fellow beer, wine,nd food aficionados, and all the good things you bring into our lives.
We're also thankful we live in such an amazing corner of the world, where fine, locally-produced food and drink is available everywhere we turn!
Since we know you appreciate good meals and drinks just as much as we do, we thought we'd share some tried-and-true suggestions with you to make your Thanksgiving Day as delightful as it can possibly be.
First, to the food. Do you have too much to drink hanging around the house? Is that bottle of sparkling wine from your great-aunt not really doing it for you? How about roasting a champagne turkey? The wine (or sparkling cider, if you don't feel like sacrificing a bottle) plus some butter leaves the turkey tender, moist, and absolutely delicious. Or, if you have some leftover reds, how about adding a red wine glaze? Spectacular!
When it comes to actually drinking the wine, turkey is a special case. While you can drink red or white wine with anything, of course, turkey actually pairs beautifully with both!
So we think that if you want to kick it up a notch, you should take the middle ground and add a delicious orange to pair with your turkey, just to keep your family or friends guessing. Orange wine is white wine that's spent a lot of time fermenting in its own skins and seeds. At its best, it's complex and spicy and goes beautifully with a Thanksgiving feast. The ever-wonderful Bernardo Winery has a sweet orange moscato that would taste divine with cranberry sauce or even with dessert. It's also a gorgeous color!
If you're feeling beerish, we can't recommend a good stout, like Alesmith's Speedway Stout, enough. Its coffee and molasses notes are perfect for pairing with stuffing and its creaminess complements everything from peas to pumpkin pie!
But if you're feeling adventurous, sour beers are where it's at for Thanksgiving. Sour beers, in case you haven't tried them, are perfect for cutting through the sometimes-gamy flavor of dark turkey meat, and prep your palate for the lighter side dishes. If you can get your hands on The Savage from Societe, it's a great American sour ale and we highly recommend it! Its cherry finish will leave you singing.
As always, we're so thankful for you.
Brooke B., Thanks Giver
It's the spookiest time of the year!
Halloween is on its way. Kids are donning costumes, scary movies are all over Netflix, and ghosts are wailing in the trees (or is it just the Santa Ana?).
But we haven't forgotten about that other celebration of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That's the Mexican celebration of the dead, where you can go to the graveyards and talk to your loved ones who have passed on.
We are so close to Mexico here in southern California that we would be remiss if we didn't mention Baja California's vibrant beer and wine scene. But you shouldn't have to cross any international borders to sample them, if you don't want to!
First up, let's talk about the craft beer scene, which in no way stops at the international border. We absolutely love Cucapa, which is out of Mexicali, and now is readily available in San Diego.
A pair of binational brothers, Ivan and Damien Morales, have a tiny but great brewery out of Tijuana called Cerveceria Insurgente (Insurgent Brewing or Revolutionary Brewing) that is currently collaborating with Stone for something that will be truly delicious.
And then there's Mexico's wineries, which are the among the oldest in the New World. Their wines are fruity and delicious, but sometimes a little minerally and salty – a byproduct of the soil in which the grapes grow. Whether or not that is your thing is a matter of taste, but it definitely sets Baja's wines apart from the rest!
We'll also be brewing up wine and beer tastings this weekend, so grab your favorite calavera pals and taste some cerveza and vino with us.
It'll be an eerily fun time!
Brooke B., Calaca
Today is National Red Wine Day! And what a glorious day it is. It's the day when we take a moment to sit back, take a sip, and really appreciate red wine. What, you say? That's every day? Well, read on for tips on how to appreciate it more!
First of all, wine is history in a glass. No matter what you drink, you're sipping on the sun, the sky, the soil, the climate, and the temperament of the place your wine was born. It contains the minerals that nurtured it, the light that warmed it, the chill of the starry nights that helped the grapes grow. In short, it embodies the character of a place like nothing else you could eat or drink, and in the most delightful and delicious way possible.
And while people have been fermenting beverages throughout human history, red wine has a special place in history. Egyptians associated it with blood and therefore considered it sacred. Europeans loved red wine so much that explorers brought and planted their own grapes wherever they landed.
This is not to say that white wine, or orange wine, or green wine, or rosé are not glorious things to taste as well. We just think that red wine deserves an appropriately reverent attitude today, and really, every day. That's why we have our wine tours, so you, too, can enjoy the complexities of California's history and delicious climate in every glass.
Brooke B., Oenophile
Posted in bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
We know we're called San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but we don't just deal with beer and wine. In fact, we never have. We understand that beer and wine without wonderful food pairings is like having peanut butter without the jelly, ice cream without the sprinkles, yin without yang – you get the picture.
All of our tours, as a matter of fact, include food tastings to go with your beverages – the equivalent of a full meal. We don't just tour the finest wineries and breweries in San Diego. Our tours are filled with the best food this town has to offer, no matter what you're in the mood for!
It's a great way to savor the best gourmet, farm-to-table fare while you sip without having to commit to the price of a full meal. Plus, you get to answer one of life's eternal questions: what's better with pizza, beer or wine? (Answer: Both, of course. And don't forget champagne, too.)
Worried about calories? Don't be! First of all, you won't be getting overprocessed food – we deal with only the best food made with the highest-quality ingredients, and our walking tours will burn them right off.
We don't stop with beer and wine pairings. We also have whiskey tours – we've found that Chedi Thai Bistro's food works beautifully with owner and chef Pia's creations.
And in case you're not in a drinking mood, rejoice. We have suggestions for wonderful non-alcoholic drinks to pair with food as well!
In other words, we have something for everybody and we proudly support the small businesses that produce the tastiest and freshest foods in San Diego.
Here's to health, good food, and lip-smackingly delicious libations!
Brooke B., Epicure
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Health, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
The temperature's a-changing and fall's on its way. We have talked at length before about our love for southern California in the autumn, haven't we? Well, we'll talk about it again. It's one of the most beautiful times of year – drought notwithstanding – because while we don't get the spectacular rainbow-hued leaves and chilly weather you might find elsewhere, we have our own unmistakable signs that the seasons are changing.
One such sign is the marine layer. It lingers a little longer this time of year, making the mornings just a little cooler and more overcast. When the sun finally peeps through the coastal clouds, it's not so warm. In fact, the conditions are perfect for a day at the beach so that you can watch the rays sparkle on the waves. Further inland, the mountains and foothills are spectacular under a sky that isn't that particular shade of azure anywhere else in the world.
But one of the best parts of San Diego's fall season is the grape harvest. That's when you know autumn has arrived! Harvest time is the best time of year for winemakers and wine lovers alike, although we know it's a bit more exhausting for them than it might be for us. There are parties, wine tastings galore, and – our most favorite of all – a grape stomp. Who doesn't love a good stomping? They're all over the place for the next couple of months, from Julian to Escondido and beyond!
If you're interested in joining the party, contact us! We're all about a good harvest celebration, and we know where the best ones are.
Here's to the changing of the seasons!
Brooke B., Seasoned Wino
The second Sunday in August is a very special day. As of 2010, it's been “Spirit of `45 Day.” It was passed unanimously by Congress, and the first Spirit of `45 Day fell on August 14th, the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Spirit of `45 Day was created first and foremost to commemorate the ordinary people who lived through the Second World War and the mettle shown by surviving members of the Greatest Generation as they rebuilt the United States after the end of the war. Another, very important reason was to remind the world that the United States is committed to never allowing a world war to happen again..
We, too, would like to honor these ordinary heroes, the men and women of World War II, so in the Spirit of `45, we are offering $4.50 off any of our Train Tours or our Chauffeured Wine Country Tour between now and the end of August. There's no better way to celebrate than tipping back a locally brewed ale. San Diego's beer scene emphasizes the solidarity and the can-do spirit that characterizes the United States at its best.
Here's to the Spirit of `45, and we'll see you on a tour!
Brooke B., Andrews Sister
We're not gonna lie – Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year around here. Since our inception, we've been all about saving the planet. Just check out some of the information on our carbon-footprint-reducing train tours and our emphasis on buying local!
By the way, if you're a beer and wine nut, one of the best things you can do is buy locally. It's not just that you'll get better beer and wine, even though you will, or feel more connected to the local environment while you sip, even though you are.
No, the best reasons to drink locally is twofold: first, you're supporting our vibrant Californian wine and beer culture and keeping local jobs coming, and second – and this is a biggie – by directly supporting all the local brews, you're reducing the enormous, gigantic fuel consumption that comes when global mass producers of beer and wine ship it to your neighborhood.
Plus, there are all the benefits that come from getting out and getting to know your beers and wines and the communities and neighborhoods around you that passionately love and support them.
So remember: Think globally, drink, locally!
To your health and the health of the planet,
Brooke B., Recyclist
There's no such thing as a perfect child. Admit it – you were a brat growing up just like all the rest of us. Do you see those grey hairs on your mom? Those are your fault, every single last one of them. That time you came home three hours late without calling? The time you got under the sink and tried to eat Drano? How about the time you brought home that really inappropriate “friend” in high school? Oh, we know. We've all been there.
At this point, the only appropriate question is, “How can I make this up to my mom?” The answer is simple: with wine. That's why we at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours have put together a wonderful Mother's Day gift to help you apologize for all those months as a kid you spent refusing to eat anything but Oreos and mayonnaise sandwiches. We offer special packages for this time of year that include a wine (or beer) and food tour, plus a deep discount on a spa day for her! We're offering it now through the end of May.
Trust us on this one: your mom will love it. And if you're a mom, you know what we're talking about.
Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms out there. We salute you!
Brooke B., Mamacita
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Today is April Fool's Day, also called “The Worst Day on the Internet.” In an age where just about anything can go viral, and gullibility is compounded by clickbait, it's best not to trust anything for the next 24 hours or so.
We promise to not be part of this trend. We, instead, embrace an original rite of spring, the "renewal festival," which occurred in many cultures throughout the world and were characterized by lighthearted pranks and a temporary reversal of the accepted social order. (Yes, we know that the whole mockery mess supposedly began when France shifted from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one somewhere in the 16th century, thereby switching the New Year to January 1st instead of April, but we prefer the friendlier origin story.)
So, we are taking this opportunity to announce that we are expanding from beer, food, and wine tours into beer, food, wine, and koi pond tours. We're looking forward to three hours of showing you the best koi ponds that San Diego County has to offer after every beer and wine tour!
Okay, that was a joke. Sorry. We caught the April Fool's spirit for a moment. Or should we say, April Fish? But this is no joke – mention “springtime" to us and you'll get $5 off a tour through the month of April.*
Brooke B., Poisson d'Avril
*Call (858) 551-5115 for discount. Not to be combined with past purchases or other offers. Discount good now through April 30th.