Boutique wine shop offers unique insight

CV's 'Alternative' has special expertise

Carmel Valley's one-year-old wine shop, Alternative Wines, operates under the motto: "Life is too short to drink boring wine."

Owner Peter Ackley puts the focus on boutique wines - those produced at about 10,000 cases, such as a small production cabernet or pinot noir. As a result his wines are unique, high quality finds whether they are $50 or $15.

"What we're about is value," Ackley said. "Getting a high quality, unique, distinct wine doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money."

Recently Alternative Wines, located on Carmel Valley Road and Torrey Del Mar Road, had a tasting event at the Pacific Athletic Club.

While the shop often participates in group events, it also hosts tastings every Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

On Friday, Dec. 19, at 6:30 p.m. they will host a "Holiday Cheer" event with Venissimo Cheese, allowing patrons to enjoy samples, tastings and learn about pairing.

East coast origins

Ackley moved to Del Mar six years ago from Connecticut, where he also operated a fine wine shop.

It was hard to leave his shop behind when his wife's company transferred to San Diego but Ackley jumped at the opportunity to give his wine business new life in California.

In stocking his store Ackley does a lot of research by tasting a lot of different wines to find the great values. Sounds like fun, but he admits there are some days he regrets, like when he has to taste a lot of awful wine.

Luckily for him, he said there's a ton of great wine being produced in California and all over the world, it's just a matter of finding it.

Ackley is currently big on Italian and Argentinean wines but he won't name a favorite.

"For me, there's not a favorite kind," Ackley said. "It's wine with food, wine with friends, it's pairing the right wine to whatever the circumstances are, be it Tuesday's pasta dinner or a Christmas party."

Ripe for the picking

Ackley knows people can find wine at most grocery stores, but he said the advantage to his wine shop is the knowledge of his staff. It can be difficult to know what to choose when shopping amongst thousands of different kinds of wine.

The shop's staff will help customers make the perfect selection and share insights about the taste and describe where these boutique wines came from.

"They all have stories and people behind them," said Ackley. "They're not corporations, a lot of them are families."

Find a bottle by visiting the store at 13859 Carmel Valley Road or their Web site,

www.alt-wines.com

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