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Sunday, June 28, 2009

About San Diego: Vintage Wines Limited
















Looking for another great place to shop for wine? I've been up to Vintage Wines Limited on Miramar Road in San Diego. The owner John Lindsay and his daughter Nicole were gracious enough to meet with me and talk about what makes Vintage Wines Limited different. And by different I mean one of kind, a place you walk into and get some sage advice about purchasing quality wines.

It's the kind of place where you can try before you buy, or sit down and unwind after work and have of a glass of wine and chat with the owner or other staff members about all things vino. If you find a wine you like, John or his staff will be all too glad to point out some wines which fit your individual palate.

One of the main reasons I wanted to bring this store to your attention centers around my very first experience with Vintage Wines. I had been looking for this wonderful Jade Mountain Mourvedre 2005 I had during a tasting at Disney's California Adventure. So when I got home I called around for a place to order the wine, I must have called at least 6-7 places before I called Vintage Wines. 

Everyone told be that they did not carry the wine and when queried about whether they could order said wine, they all told be no, sorry. When I called Vintage Wines they said in one breath, we don't carry it but we would be glad to order it for you. After I hung up the phone, I thought to myself now that is customer service at it's best. 


Vintage Wines Limited has been in business for some twenty two years here in San Diego. John considers himself one of the "dinosaurs' of the wine retail world. New technology is not his thing, that's why you will find his daughter Nicole helping out in the store and bolstering their online image. The staff is very friendly, knowledgeable and everyone is willing help you find the perfect wine for your event or your everyday drinking needs.

Whether you are a newbie to wine or a seasoned oenophile, they either have what you are looking for or will order it for you. Some wines are excluded from this mantra of course because they are so highly allocated. For example Kosta-Browne has been cutting allocations to wine (Vintage Wines included)stores to because of the demand.

They get the name vintage wines from the fact that they carry many "Vintage" wines which you will not find elsewhere. The temptation which John described to me as "fanatical" was the need or want to trophy hunt wines, like many of the collectors he knows who will sell their treasures to John once they realize like John, "you can't take it with you and you will never be able to drink through that kind of inventory." 

Like John told me, "wine is for enjoyment, not a trophy to be collected." Because the relationship oriented business style which VWL employs, they are able to obtain some very rare finds. For example, the 2006 Richebourg, Grand Cru, Domaine Jean Grivot for $479.99 selling elsewhere online for $529.99 or the highly sought after Australian Astralis vintages 1996-1998 and even Grange Verticals. (All these wines of course are kept in the Reserve Wine Cellar) 

While VWL makes it a practice to purchase wine from personal collectors, you just can't walk in off the street with some expensive bottle and expect them to purchase your wine; like it was explained to me this is a business built upon relationships.

For the casual everyday drinker who cares nothing about labels, where it came from or even what the owners name is, and you only want to drink a very good wine for very little money, than VWL is the ticket. With about 50% of the wines in the store with the "value" moniker and having scored over 90 points from some major publication you are sure to get a winner to take to that next party or celebration. As you can see in the picture above labeled "red value" VWL has many different wines to accommodate all budgets and tastes and have a seal of approval from a major wine publication.

When it comes to wine from the heralded Burgundy region of France, they have what VWL calls an extensive collection for a San Diego based wine store. Yep, as you may have guessed it when you move further up the coast toward California's wine "Mecca" (read that SF) you will find a vigorous depth of rare or hard to find premium wine. 

But if you are like me and love to browse new wine shops searching for something new or elusive here in San Diego and don't want to commute to LA of SF just to get a trophy label wine than VWL is your place to shop hands down. But they also carry wines from every major region on the globe and even a few labels which I've never heard of from Lebanon of all places, who knew.

Why I recommend VWL:

Great Buys: I am a huge fan of QPR (quality price ratio) and here are a couple examples of great buys in John's opinion, which are the Twenty Rows for $17.99 and the Bryan Page, 3 Doves for $15.99 for a 750ml bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, both selling less than the lowest Internet price I was able to find. The fact they have good quality wine to fit every budget and occasion. 

Great customer service:

Try before you buy: The wine tastings every Saturday for a modest Abe Lincoln, you can taste up to six different wines and on occasion if a distributor is looking to get a new wine some attention a seventh wine could be thrown into the mix. 

Seasonal wine tastings: for example the Champagne tasting held in the fall where up to twenty different labels are available for tasting

Futures Program: If you like like to buy Bordeaux for example at futures prices, they have a program available for those who are interested.

What are some drawbacks:

Driving: if you've been on Miramar Road it can be daunting at times. Tempature: I thought the store was a little on the warm side, definitely cooler than being outside but none the less it was no where near 57 degrees which I keep my wine in my cellar. Location: a little difficult to find if your not familiar with the area, it's in a small strip mall which is easy to pass by as your GPS device tells you have arrived.

Overall Recommendation: This is a great place to buy wine, the selection is first rate. The advice is solid and everyone can feel comfortable as there are no snobs looking over your shoulders, shaking their heads at what they may perceive as your pedestrian palate. 

Get on their mailing list to stay abreast of latest great wine deals. Please check it out for yourself and tell them Bill, your San Diego Wine Shopping Examiner sent you! Until next time cheers everyone!
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