Vino Carta wine shop opens in Solana Beach
Solana Beach beer specialist Bottlecraft has transitioned into a new wine shop and tasting bar, Vino Carta. Located inside the Beach Walk Shopping Center on N. Coast Highway 101, the wine shop officially opened on Oct. 1.
Vino Carta is focused on independent, family-run producers that use sustainable and organic farming practices to make natural, low intervention wines. Co-owner Patrick Ballow said they aim to offer “farmer-focused and terroir-driven wines that exemplify the romantic charm that the world of wine has to offer.” (A little wine 101: there is nothing scary about terroir, it simply means the climate, soil and terrain that impacts the flavor of a wine.)
They offer a wide selection of wines for sale and pour wines by the glass.
Vino Carta is a part of the Bottlecraft family. Owner Brian Jensen opened his first Bottlecraft in Little Italy in 2011, taking inspiration from a wine shop he worked at in Brooklyn while attending the French Culinary Institute and adapting it to the craft beer world with a bottle shop and taproom.
He went on to open shops in North Park, Liberty Public Market and then Solana Beach in 2017. The first Vino Carta opened six years ago in the original Bottlecraft location in Little Italy when it moved down the road —Ballow was a partner in the wine side of the business from its roots, bringing his broad knowledge in the world of wines, particularly in specialty and small production vineyards.
A few factors went into making the transition in Solana Beach. Ballow said the shop had a lot of great regulars that embraced the craft beer culture but the shop was not immune to the impacts of COVID-19—a Bottlecraft location in Sorrento Valley sadly shuttered in May. With a new Bottlecraft opening in Oceanside on Oct. 13, they decided to try and bring the Vino to the Solana Beach location.
“We’ve been pleased by the success of the Little Italy store and we were seeking out ways to be in other communities,” Ballow said. “I know the North County area has a lot of great wine consumers.”
This is not to say the beer is leaving Solana Beach completely. Ten taps will remain designated for beer, with one reserved for hard seltzer and kombucha. Beer will also be available in the retail section, mostly in the can format, as well as a large selection of natural ciders.
The focus will be on the wine: starting with an inventory of a few hundred bottles, grouped together by region and varietals like New World (Australia, California, South Africa), French reds and grower champagnes also known as “farmer fizz”.
“Our idea for Vino Carta is to have a selection of the whole world of wines,” Ballow said. “I’m a firm believer that a good retail wine shop is like a good clothing store, where the inventory is always changing and evolving.”
The by-the-glass menu will be updated weekly allowing for explorations of something new and different. “These days people are always excited to try different things,” Ballow said. “What Vino Carte does is try to tap into that spirit.” As an example, over opening weekend they were pouring wines from Eastern Europe—Serbia, Solvania and Austria—for their Sunday wine flights.
Besides a lot more wine, the space has also changed with more seating, different seating arrangements and the addition of a ton of foliage—many of the exotic plants will also be available for purchase. The shop has its own kitchen and they hope to partner with food vendors or chefs to offer pop-up food pairing events to keep it exciting. They will soon offer light bites, cheese and charcuterie boards and “to die for” potato chips.
One thing he hopes to bring from the Little Italy location is an inclusive and welcoming culture.
“Wine kind of has this air of raised pinkies and country clubs and it can be a little bit elitist. I’ve always shied away from that,” he said.
Ballow said Vino Carta is lucky to have a knowledgeable staff who are great listeners and passionate about wines who love to introduce people to wines that they may not be familiar with, in a way that’s not snooty. He is confident that they can guide even newbie wine drinkers toward a wine that they will really like to drink.
“We’re tremendously excited, “ he said. “San Diego is a great place to live and work and North County San Diego is such a beautiful community. We’re excited to meet some new people, share wines that we love and see what’s possible.”
Vino Carta is open Monday through Thursday from 3-10 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 437 N. Highway 101. Vino Carta also runs a monthly wine club. To learn more visit vinocartasd.com
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