For a while now, San Carlans were able to brag that for a town of only 30,000 residents, it boasted both a brewery (Devil’s Canyon) and a winery (Domenico), both of which are excellent. Well, success breeds success, and now the City of Good Living (and Eating) is the home of no less than three breweries and five wineries. So, although a trip to California’s wine country is always fun, one can avoid the 75 mile drive and follow the San Carlos Wine Trail for some excellent tastings right here. The only real limitation is that, unlike their Napa/Sonoma counterparts, the San Carlos wineries have limited hours for public tasting:
- Domenico Winery (1697 Industrial Road) – Saturday and Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm
- Flying Suitcase Wines (915 Washington Street) – Friday 4:00pm-7:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm
- Russian Ridge Winery (919 Washington Street) – Friday 5:00pm-9:00pm and Saturday and Sunday noon-5:00pm
- Cuvée Wine Cellars (1001 Washington Street) – Saturday 1:00-5:00pm and last Friday of the month 6:00pm-9:00pm
- Old County Cellars (295 Old County Road #1) – Saturday and Sunday 1:30pm-5:30pm
Domenico is the big dog on the block with the largest facility (it’s a great place for a large private event) and the longest history in the area. However, an ecosystem of small wineries is developing in the east side of San Carlos on nearby Washington Street (certainly helped by the Friday night traffic from the Devil’s Canyon Brewery), including Flying Suitcase, Russian Ridge, and Cuvée (which also sometimes hosts other wineries that pour at its location). Also, just this February, Old County Cellars moved to its own location further north on Old County Road.
Domenico has a fairly large tasting room, while the others have small, but very nice, rooms including a tasting bar as well as casual seating to hang with friends – the small wineries also seem to allow well-behaved dogs and let you bring in your own food. Most of the wineries charge for tastings (~$15) but will waive that fee if you purchase their wine. The City of Good Eating has been to four of the wineries, and we have been able to find excellent bottles at reasonable prices at all of them. If you really love a particular place and want to make a greater commitment, they each have wine clubs as well (Domenico has a winemaking club as well).
Due to the limited public hours (which hopefully may expand with increased popularity), you’ll have to plan your wine stroll accordingly (each place can also be booked for private parties). You should check out the wineries’ websites for listing of special events (Domenico, in particular, has a bunch of events and concerts open to the public). So, forget the crowds and traffic of Napa Valley and head to the newest hub of wine in California — San Carlos!