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About San Diego: The La Costa Wine Company

For the many folks who live in or around La Costa one things comes to mind, like golf. According to Ravi Patel, "Playing from behind and winning, or being in the lead and finishing first in golf requires unique strategies by pro golfers. It is fascinating to watch these plans unfold as someone like Tiger is playing on the final day." He says further, "Similarly in business, Entrepreneurs need to develop unique strategies for either playing from behind in the competitive marketplace or constantly maintaining the lead." It appears golf and business have lots in common.

After with speaking with Chris Garrett the owner I can see there's now another equally important strategy changing the La Costa wine scene and what is that you may be asking, well one to keep in mind is the La Costa Wine Company, formerly known as Wine Street (and the old sign is still there in the parking lot) which can be found in San Diego’s North County. The LCWC is what I would call a full-service wine shop, which caters to many different levels and types of palates and offers a broad spectrum of wines from around the world. 

I asked Chris how he would characterize the wine inventory carried at LCWC and he said, “We offer everything from the biggest names in Napa to the up-and-coming producers from Spain, Italy and beyond”. There were quite a few labels which caught my eye, like Marcassin Wine, Sine Qua Non Ventriloquist 2001 and some labels from Scarecrow Wines. LCWC does have a Reserve Room which you see pictured here where they keep most of their top labels. I think this is a good practice, as you can pay over $500.00 for some labels. I don't think you want it just laying around a semi-cool store, where it could be damaged. 

There has been a wine shop in this location for some 16 years, but in 2008 the store changed hands and hearts. The business took on a new energy, a renewed vibe if you will. I asked Chris about where the name came from and why he decided to re-name the store to La Costa Wine Company. 

He said, “To give it a sense of place”, to reflect the community of which the store would become and to let everyone know that there have been big changes.” Kris further stated, “As part of our "new direction" we decided to completely remodel the back of the store to include a full wine bar where you can purchase wines by the glass as well or for hosting special tasting events.” LCWC offers wine tasting each weekend, where you can taste through 6 different wines for $15.00. Speaking of wines by the glass their bar has a Enomatic like wine beverage system. 

The machine can be programmed to dispense 1 ounce up to 5 ½ ounce pours, where the price ranges anywhere from .50 to $5.00 depending on the pour size and the caliber of the wine, where they do not have self serve/credit card option, but you can buy a debit type card and drop some money on it and your hostess will serve the wine you request. Not to worry that if you don't use the entire balance it will be kept on your card until you return next time.

As part of the new direction for LCWC, Chris also had a full service Cheese Shop built, complete with pairing suggestions, where cheeses from around the world are available to sample or try before you buy. For those of you who love to have a nice cigar to go with that Tawny Port LCWC still has a walk in Cigar humidor, with a nice selection of cigars available.
What I liked: Not too far off the freeway if your coming down from Carlsbad or driving up from Del Mar and their store was not to difficult to spot from the road (The GPS will have you turn to early). They will ship out to their customers if requested. There is a 10% case discount on all wines (except highly allocated or hard to find wines). 

LCWC is competitively priced, as an example Chris pointed out the Pahlmeyer 2005 Napa Valley Red Wine Jayson which he's selling for $39.99 a full ten bucks cheaper than the online stores. They have a website presence and you can sign up for their email newsletter, thus saving a tree or two. The store is typically kept at an appropriate temperature (but the day I was there, the doors were open and it was a little warm). If Chris tastes a wine he doesn't like he won't bring it into the store, why try to convince folks to buy something he can't stand behind. He if doesn't have the wine you are looking for, he will order it for you (providing you want 6 bottles or more).

What didn't work for me: There was not too much parking and the front curbs were painted with those, "you have 20 minutes or else" warnings. I typically will take more than 20 minutes to choose my wine, as I like to do a little browsing. It was somewhat dark in the store and a little disorganized, didn't really seem to have a flow. There were no shopping carts. I can usually juggle about 5 bottles, but that's my limit. Only three of the five folks who for the LCWC have a good wine knowledge and to me that is not good, when I go to a "wine-shop" I expect everyone there to be a cork-dork like myself when compared to shopping at my local grocery store.

Overall Recommendation: A great place to shop for wine. You will be able to find many wines you can't else where because the owner is on many allocation lists, which often takes years to get an allotment. They are competitively priced and you can try some before you buy. They have a very comfortable wine bar area and gracious hosts. Remember when you stop by, please tell that the San Diego Wine Shopping Examiner set you.


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