Shhh,This is Better Than Glen Ivy

For years, my college friend and I have celebrated our birthdays at Glen Ivy Spa. It seemed the perfect spot to meet up between where we reside, Corona and San Diego.  But, after over-crowding seemed to lose some of Glen Ivy’s former allure, we sought out other options. Last year we decided to try Grape Seed Spa at South Coast Winery for my birthday and really enjoyed ourselves-taking advantage of the fitness room and jacuzzi than both of us enjoying massages. This year, we decided to go there again and had even more fun. We arrived earlier than the year before (they’re open from from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekend and a spa appointment gets you access to their amenities) so in addition to what we enjoyed the year prior, we added in sauna, steam room and pool side time with snacks and a glass of red wine for each of us. I tried a glass of Syrah my friend tried a glass of Group Therapy ( a mix of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre). Of course her wine title was a good description of our time together–relaxing and sharing our victories and struggles in our lives.  Both of us had massages and it was one of the better massage experiences I’ve had in a long time. My friend came out of her massage looking so relaxed and happy that I’m sure it won’t be long before we’ll go back.

A part of me hesitates to write about Grape Seed Spa for fear that too many people will find out what a gem it is and we’ll have to search for another spot. But, here goes anyway, and if you want a mud bath you won’t find it here.

Grape Seed Spa, South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
34843 Rancho California Road
Temecula, CA  92591
(951) 587-9463


Family WineMakers of CA Tasting Returns to Del Mar



The last time the Family WineMakers event was in Del Mar it was fun to focus on one varietal and taste each of the samplings from the different wineries.  See previous article here. With the upcoming March 20 event, due to the immense offerings of over 500 wines and 125 wineries, it may be a good idea to do some research prior to attending to determine what you’d like to sample.

Some of the Southern California wineries that will be attending the event include.

Admirable Family Vineyards located in Malibu California.  Their Malibu coast AVA wines include a Cabernet-Syrah blend and Viognier, popular varietals in the Southern California area.

Cantara Cellars, a winery in Camarillo. Interesting varietals you might like to try from them include a Mourvedre and Tempranillo, both red grapes originate from the mediterranean.

Coomber Family Wines, located in Encinitas.  They have Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon offerings.

FiftyRow Vineyards is in Carlsbad. They have Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend wines.

Gold Creek Vineyards is located in Encinitas. They offer a Petit Verdot and Syrah both sound interesting.

Prizm Winery is in Los Angeles. They create Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Roadrunner Ridge Winery is located in Fallbrook.  This winery has a wealth of different varietal and blend wines. Their Petite Syrah, Mourvedre and Shiraz blend sounds interesting and they also have a Barbera, Mourvedre and Tempranillo blend along with straight varietal wines of those individual varieties.

So now that your palate is eager to try some of these, go here to get your tickets.

Sunday, March 20, 2-5 p.m.
$75 and designated drivers get in free.



Work Begins on Fourth Edition of San Diego Wine Guide

Expect to see a 2016 version of the wine guide book Popcorn Press & Media has published in the past. Three previous editions, Wine Tasting in San Diego & Beyond © 1999, Wine Tasting in San Diego & Beyond–Partake of the Grape in San Diego, Temecula, Baja, Rancho Cucamonga and Los Angeles © 2004, and Wine Tasting in Southern California & Beyond © 2009, have covered areas beyond San Diego. This time around, the book will focus on San Diego wine and food featuring the unique flavors of the region.

BW coveruntitled Cover File Rev.4D

A team consisting of graphic designers, writers and other talent will contribute to this new edition.

If you have a winery or unique food store, we’d like to hear from you for consideration.

As work gets closer to completion, a Kickstarter campaign will launch pre-orders.  We’re excited about sharing the new San Diego wine and food frontier with our readers.


Janene Roberts
Popcorn Press & Media, Inc
PO Box 3375
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
(858) 759-2779


Sally Thornton Passes

Sally Thornton passed away Friday, June 12, 2015 at UCSD Medical Center. Co-owner, with her husband John, of Thornton Winery in Temecula, California Sally was a not-to-be missed presence at the Jazz concerts they held each Summer and Fall.  Prior to the beginning of a concert she would rouse the audience to get excited. Her generosity and good nature are features that stood out about her.


I had written previously about their Jazz concerts and holiday dinner her and her husband had invited me to.

Jake Shimabukruo

Jazz Series

Holiday Dining

More stories about Sally here:

La Jolla Light

Union Tribune



More Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

So if you’re one of the single girls without a Valentine this year, here’s a gift you can give to yourself for that next fun girls night out you have planned.


Available at


Use this link for 10% off your order. Get 10% Discount – Flowers & Gifts Worldwide


Not sure what to get him for Valentine’s? How about this wood grain I-phone case?

Available at

Available at

Use this code for a discount. Hurry. It expires soon. Valentine’s Day Sale – $10 off all orders over $75 at! Code: SWEETHEART (Valid 1/27-2/14)

All I can say is YUM. It’s a chocolate strawberry champagne cake.

Available at Pittman & Davis

Available at Pittman & Davis

Click on banner link. Free shipping. Pittman & Davis


Will He Give Her The Rose Tonight? and Other Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

18829-milk-chocolate-red-rose-6-piece-bouquet_180x180 Which Bachelorette will Chris Soules choose this season? It’s starting to get serious on the Bachelor show. Why not have your own rose ceremony and show your Bachelorette that you’ve chosen her by giving her this unique Valentine’s day gift of a chocolate rose? $21 at Each rose is made of premium quality milk chocolate, wrapped in vibrant red foil, and attached to a faux rose stem and comes with 6 pieces. Give her one a day leading up to Valentine’s Day or buy two and give her a dozen Save 10% on any Gift over $30 w/Code ’10red’ at

18528-dark-chocolate-bar-with-hearts-1_375x375 Or take her to Dordogne, France though this dark chocolate heart (only $6 at Dordogne is filled with chateau’s and castles, a romantic setting for Valentine’s. Why not hint to her that you’d like to take her there one day?

 The bar contains all natural ingredients without oil or soy and is dotted with sugar pink & white hearths. Vegan dark chocolate & gluten free.
Each product is supervised by master chocolatier Valter Bovetti. 2 chocolate master & 2 apprentices.

If she’s more of a French and English girl and likes Downton Abbey, she might like this gift from 135258lfor $59.99. Set includes Downton Abbey Blanc  A Bordeaux white wine with a blend of 70% Muscadelle and 30% Semillon Blanc. Downton Abbey Claret  A classic Bordeaux red blend or “Claret”  with a blend of 70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec. Downton Abbey Candle in French Claret (10oz)  A blend of blueberry and concord grapes fused with violet notes. Downton Abbey Tea in English Rose (36 tea bags) A vibrant, ruby-red infusion of rose, raspberry and hibiscus has fruity, floral notes and a touch of sweetness. Ingredients include Nigerian hibiscus, rosehip peels, apples, stevia, natural raspberry, natural rose and vanilla flavors and rose petals.  Get $5 off purchases of $50+ at! Use code: FIVEFEB. Valid 2/1-2/28. Just click on the link.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Wine Tasting in San Diego.


San Diego Restaurant: Solare Ristorante Liberty Station

The many positive reviews about Solare Ristorante in Liberty Station, San Diego were confirmed one weekday afternoon last month. As the lunch crowd diminished, a table on their patio was a refreshing respite during a long work day. Everything about the experience, from the staff’s recommendation of a not-too-sweet Italian soda, to a warm zuppa di pomodori arrostiti tomato soup and pizza margherita just warranted another excuse to come back. There’s a lot to experience here.  Happy hour from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. has intriguing items like $5 pear and gorgonzola pizza and drinks. Two Saturdays of each month they have cooking classes that appear to sell out pretty quickly.

This place is worth a try.

2820 Roosevelt Rd.
Liberty Station, Point Loma
San Diego, CA 92106

Solare Restaurant ©Popcorn Press & Media

Solare Ristorate
©Popcorn Press & Media


An Interview with Le Metro’s Wine Curator Aaron Epstein

When Tina Morey, Operations Manager for Protocol Wine Studio in Sorrento Valley, told me she was creating a wine business I knew it would be a class act just like she is. It wasn’t too long after Protocol Wine Studio started that she and her partner launched another aspect of their business called Le Metro. I was curious, and thought maybe you would be too, to find out what these wine aficionados were up to.

Tina thought Aaron Epstein, Curator, would be the best person to answer the questions I was posing.


Q: Why underground? What’s the idea behind taking your business “underground”?

A: “Underground” is intended to convey the journey that each Le Metro collection takes you on (think Paris Metro and London Underground) and also speak to the provenance of our wines. Most of the wines we work with are such tiny production that it takes some cajoling to obtain them, and in many instances we’re literally snapping up the last few cases available in the market. Often they’re elusive bottles that wine lovers have read about but never actually been able to taste.

Q: How is Le Metro different from other wine shops/events in San Diego?

A: Not just here in San Diego – Le Metro is different from every other wine purveyor in the world! I’m immensely proud to say that we’ve been doing this for fifteen months now, and I’ve yet to come across anybody out there providing context remotely like this for their wines. There are countless delicious bottles out there, and curators whose palates I deeply admire. But our content is totally unprecedented. Whether you prefer visual art or the written word, our goal is to make these wines resonate with you.

Q: Where are you going? What do you envision for the future?

A: I’d like to see this develop to a point where we can have multiple product offerings, at different price points and for different audiences. I’d be thrilled to have a higher end club where I can rock out themes like grower champagne and single vineyard Barolo, but it would also be great to offer one for $100 that more of my friends could actually afford. It’s hard to overestimate the production value of what we send out there, and at the moment it’s only me, Tina, and GUY, with the invaluable support of Sean Kelley over at Mother Sponge Design and, of course, the brilliant Elaine Chukan Brown.

Q: And that iconic question with a twist, If you could have a glass of wine with anyone, either dead or alive, who would it be?

A: Ha. You had to go there? 🙂 At the moment, I’d probably say Thomas Jefferson. After my research into off-the-beaten path domestic wines for our July edition I’m a little fixated on the development of a US wine culture, and it would be hard to identify somebody more historically influential than he.

Protocol Wine Studio is open for scheduled educational events and by appointment only. Visit their Studio Events page to see upcoming events.

4186 Sorrento Valley Blvd Suite H
San Diego CA 92121


A Quick Winery Tour of Iacobelli Winery in Fallbrook

I was able to take a tour of the new Iacobelli Winery in Fallbrook. Click on the picture below to watch the video.

Wine bike


Five Observations at Southern California Wineries

For a long time the Southern California wine scene was overlooked. Temecula was one of the first areas to get a little bit of attention but got hit by the sharp shooter in the late ’90s. Even though it was a bad thing, it really helped the wineries come into their own and helped other lesser known areas embark onto the scene.

Because most of Temecula vines were diseased at that time the winery owners had to come up with a new strategy for the region.  Prior to the disease, they had planted grape vines based on market demands. The tragedy  made most of the growers realize it would be better to plant varieties that were better equipped to handle the elements of the area.  In other words, they just needed to be themselves.  Other wine regions followed suit and now there is an explosion of wineries opening all over Southern California.

Over the years, here’s what I have observed are unique traits at Southern California wineries.

1.  Girls Just Want To Have Fun

It’s true you’ll find lots of bachelorette and birthday parties with groups of women dressed in brightly colored sun dresses at many bigger Southern California wineries, but there are just as many smaller wineries that don’t get the big crowds or the loud parties.  The wineries are as diverse as the multi-cultural landscape.  Don’t get frustrated when you run into these ladies.  Ask if you can take a picture with them and join their fun.  They might want you to post the picture on Facebook and then you’ll make a bunch of new friends.

©Popcorn Press & Media, Inc

©Popcorn Press & Media, Inc

2.  There Really Is Good Wine Being Made

I can’t count how many times people have joked with me about the wine in Southern California not being any good. It’s hard not to take the comments to be a personal offense as most of the time they know I’ve written about the area.  Sometimes I defend the wineries, but other times I just let the naysayer’s voices roll right off me.  Yeah, there’s some wine produced in So Cal that’s not any good, but you can say that about any wine region. That’s really why the whole wine tasting idea got started in the first place.  The wineries were being generous and letting you sample the product before you bought it to make sure you liked it. It wasn’t until people started taking advantage of their generosity, sampling but not buying, that they decided to start charging a tasting fee.  Most likely the naysayers were also the cheapskates.   Bah humbug, mean critics go Debbie Downer somewhere else. It’s always sunny here so we like to be optimistic.

3.  We Know More About Wine Then You Think

Just because Southern California has a reputation for spurning out blonde bimbos and surfers, doesn’t mean most of the population isn’t educated.  According to, California has the most universities of all the states in the union (399) and eight of the top 14 Universities in California, according to, are located in Southern California.   That makes for a lot of brain power that is most likely being put to use when people are evaluating wine qualities at wineries.  We can be smart and fun too so don’t judge us.

4.  A Diverse Scene

Because the population of California is so diverse, there are just as many unique wineries to match a person’s preferences.  Want to bring your dog to a winery?  You’ll find some welcoming your friend.  You just like the Syrah varietal?  There are wineries that focus on that variety.  If you like to pretend you’re part of the royal line, you can find wineries that look like castles. Or if you don’t like to make it out to a rural setting there are some in town.  Whatever the preferences are, it seems Southern California wineries are more willing to give it a try.  Maybe, like Avis, So Cal wineries try harder.

5.  An Underdog

The Urban Dictionary describes an underdog as one that is at a disadvantage.  Southern California wineries, although there has been a lot of progress, are still mostly overlooked by serious wine professionals.  It seems to make perfect sense then that Southern California wineries are underdogs–and just maybe like to be that way.  According to a Dallas news article by David Tarrant who interviewed Malcolm Gladwell who wrote David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, Gladwell told Tarrant that a lesson in underdog stories is that “being an underdog can force people or organizations to try new techniques and out-of-the-box strategies to overcome obstacles, whether it’s a disability, lack of money or other potential impediments. His book is full of stories illustrating this theme.”

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