Carruth Cellars toasts to 10 years in Solana Beach

Carruth Cellars is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Solana Beach.

Carruth Cellars is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in Solana Beach, a decade of infusing love and gratitude into every glass they pour. The winery on Cedros Avenue is one of the fastest-growing urban wineries in the county, making 25,000 barrels of wine in 2019.

As the most important part in their winemaking process, Carruth sources the best grapes they can find, focused mainly on fruit from Northern and Central California and Willamette Valley in Oregon. The winery has produced 15 award-winning wines as rated by the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and this July was awarded two gold and four silver medals for its wines at Sunset Magazine’s International Wine Competition.

Owner Adam Carruth started actually started as a homebrewer when he was in college at UC Riverside. Twenty years ago he moved to Sonoma County and studied viticulture, shifting his interests from beer to winemaking while living in wine country.

“I didn’t have a plan to be a winemaker,” said Carruth in the middle of a busy bottling day at the winery last week.

Eventually, he was making wine with his friends as a hobby and when the San Diego native moved back to Carlsbad, he continued making wine in his backyard. As he made more and more barrels, the hobby transitioned into a professional operation.

The spot on Cedros ended up being perfect—both for by-the-glass sales by the beach, as well as a production facility. As soon as the grapes are harvested, they are loaded on temperature-controlled trucks and transported to San Diego. Carruth does all of the wine production (destemming, crushing, fermenting, aging, and bottling) at the Solana Beach location. In non-pandemic times, they even invite the public in to help with the crushing process in the fall.

“It’s been awesome, the company took on a life of its own after about two years,” Carruth said, noting the Carruth crew is now like one big family. “It’s a fun place to work and a fun lifestyle.”

They expanded from its humble backyard and beach roots, opening the Carlsbad tasting room in 2016 and the Little Italy wine garden in 2017. They recently opened a new Oceanside production facility in June, across from the Oceanside Municipal Airport. Carruth plans to transform the space into “The Hangar” with the addition of a production brewery, biergarten and wine garden all under one roof, set to open in 2021.

While their wines can be found at local establishments like Jake’s Del Mar, Viewpoint and Wild Note Cafe, Carruth remains 99% direct to consumer. They have a loyal 2,500-person strong wine club.

Like most businesses, the pandemic has made an impact on the winery: “Every month is a new challenge,” Carruth said.

They have done their best to adapt to the changing times, doing deliveries to members when the lockdown was more serious in March, moving inside a little in June when things got better and then outside again when restrictions tightened again.

The pandemic also has had a silver lining—in being forced to move outside, Solana Beach became another wine garden. They partnered with David Alan Collection in Solana Beach to bring in some custom wood slab tables and their friends at BioEve Landscaping in Cardiff to add some greenery, creating a nice socially-distanced friendly outdoor patio.

Carruth said he hopes to work with the city to make the outdoor area a permanent feature in Cedros.

The pandemic also pushed them into offering more food, partnering with local restaurants, purveyors and food trucks to bring in tasty pairings. They now plan to add a kitchen to the Oceanside facility to begin to offer small plates: “We’re really excited about it,” Carruth said.

Carruth has always placed an emphasis on being a part of the community and supporting local nonprofits through Corks for a Cause events and Pay it Forward bottles where a portion of proceeds are dedicated to a nonprofit organization or cause.

Right now one of their bottles goes to support their own. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold of the 2019 Pinot Noir Rose will benefit Carruth Cellars staff that were affected by the economic downturn.

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