If you love wine this post is for you. Today I’m writing about a new trend popping up in cities — Urban Wineries.
Living in California, I’ve been fortunate to visit most of the state’s wine growing regions. I love visiting vineyards nestled among hills of green grape vines. But getting to these locations requires planning and sometimes some significant travel. For those of us who are not near a wine region its particularly challenging.
Enter Urban Wineries
Urban wineries deliver all the fun of wine tasting right in the middle of the city. Unlike traditional wineries, urban winemakers bring the grapes directly to the city winery where they make the wine and serve it. I few months ago I posted this post on why beer tasting is more fun than wine tasting, but I think that Urban Wineries are perhaps tipping the scales back to wine. Urban wineries are anything but stuffy. Many are in more industrial/modern settings and there isn’t a grape vine to be seen.
San Diego has a growing Urban Winery scene, but they are popping up everywhere, from Santa Fe to Cincinnati. This article from Wine Enthusiast has some great information on some of the top urban wineries in the United States.
Interview with Jason Wimp, Owner of 2Plank Vineyards
To learn more about the growing trend of Urban Wineries I contacted the SD Urban Winery organization and interviewed Jason Wimp, Owner of 2Plank Vineyards. Jason was kind enough to answer my questions via email.
1) Why the emergence and surge in Urban Wineries?
I think a lot of this emergence is aided by the growth of the brewing scene in San Diego’s urban areas This is also not a new phenomenon around the state of California as there are typically areas in each wine region where wineries have conglomerated into commercial or industrial areas to make wine. Lompoc (Santa Ynez) is one example. The same exists in the downtown areas of Healdsburg, Sonoma and Paso Robles. The benefit is that customers can visit more wineries that are close together, often in one location. The other benefit for wineries taking advantage of existing industrial facilities in commercial areas. Setting up infrastructure on a vineyard property can often be a lot more expensive.
2) Tell me more about the differences between an Urban Winery and a typical winery?
Urban wineries typically don’t have grapevines growing on site. The wine is produced at the location with grapes that are brought in from different vineyards. The grapes that are used to make the wines are typically sourced from farmers that focus on growing and not necessarily winemaking. A traditional winery will usually be on a vineyard in a rural setting and will use most of their own grapes that they grow locally. An Urban Winery often will have a wider variety of wines since they source from different regions that specialize in different grape varietals.
3) What do you want people to understand about Urban Wineries?
The grapes don’t care where they turn into wine. The wines produced at an Urban Winery are all made exactly the same way that they are made in a traditional winery. The grapes are brought in straight from the vineyard just like they would be normally except that they just may need to travel a farther distance to get to the winery.
4) How is an Urban Winery different than a tasting room?
Urban wineries have an “02 Winemaking” permit that requires that wines are produced on site. A tasting room has a different license (like a wine bar). While the urban wineries have a tasting room it is also where wine production takes place. This is similar to breweries and distilleries that also have specific permits they need to produce alcohol. A tasting room (alone) is typically in the bar or restaurant category. Additionally, tasting rooms typically do not have people on site that are as intimately knowledgeable about how each wine is made. Ultimately, the Urban Winery experience is usually a lot more educational.
5) How is 2Plank Vineyards unique?
We are unique in that in addition to our two winery and tasting room locations we also own and manage several vineyards around the county. Most urban wineries do not own off site vineyards and most traditional wineries do not make their wine in an urban setting or have urban tasting rooms. So, we have the best of both worlds and I think that it shows in our wines. Winemaking starts in the vineyard so the more control you have over that process the most control you have over the quality of your wines.
Visiting Urban Wineries Near You
San Diego has 11 Urban Wineries that have opened in recent years. Now, San Diego natives and visitors can do tasting right in their back yard. I highly recommend checking these urban wineries out. Most of them offer fun and educational activities as well such as winemaking courses and more.
I linked some of the county’s Urban Wineries below. For the full list of San Diego’s Urban Wineries and for more information visit the San Diego Urban Winery Website.