Californians adore their California wine, and the Cohn Restaurant Group is fueling the lovefest.
Throughout September, which is California Wine Month, CRG will hold eight events across San Diego County, including five wine pairing dinners, two tasting events and one seminar on the history of wine in the state.
Now in its second year, Cohn's monthlong celebration showcases the diversity of California's offerings - from premium Sonoma sparkling wines to blockbuster reds from Paso Robles, from established Napa Valley to emerging San Diego.
The first wine dinner kicks off at 6 p.m. today at 333 Pacific, in Oceanside , where six courses will be paired with whites and reds from Napa. ($96; 760-433-3333)
Here are some top picks:
The lineup's blockbuster event will take place on Sept. 10 at Float, the bobbing event space right on the water at Coasterra, on Harbor Island. Though some diners have complained that the recently installed Float blocks the restaurant's water views, you'll have a bird's-eye view of the annual Fleet Week Sea & Air Parade along San Diego Bay at this event.
"You're directly out on the water facing the city and Coronado - it'll be the best view in San Diego," said Maurice DiMarino, Cohn's beverage director. "Float is tied down, but you still feel like you're on a boat. It's pretty cool to be out there and see it."
The walk-around tasting features 20 wines, including Flora Springs, Cliff Lede, Daou, Chalone Estate and Goldschmidt Vineyards, plus Baja-style appetizers and the military show. (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; $100; 619-814-1300)
* The Sept. 17 Beachside Bubbles & Barnacles tasting, right above the sand at Sea 180º, in Imperial Beach, includes pours of sparkling wine from eight producers (Gloria Ferrer, Mumm, Shug, Roederer and Scharffenberger among them), plus fresh oysters and shucking demos. (2 to 4 p.m.; $60; 619-631-4949)
DID YOU KNOW?
From Tuesday through Sept. 15, more than a dozen Cohn restaurants will have a "Wine & Dime" special - buy your first glass of wine and the second is 10 cents.
* DiMarino, who teaches a wine course at San Diego State University, will lead a seminar on the history of California wine at Island Prime on Sept. 24, from noon to 2 p.m. Sounds dry, but there will be 10 wines to try (plus passed appetizers when class lets out).
A certified sommelier, DiMarino, will discuss the state's various grape-growing regions and where California's wine industry is headed.
"We're seeing the business of wine-growing changing," he said. Small producers are trying to get away from homogenized wine and are in the pursuit of balance. ... Regions that might be coming up in the next few years are Lake County, Anderson Valley and San Diego. In all of these places, there's the potential to grow fantastic grapes." ($40; 619-236-1299)
California Wine Month
When: Various events throughout September
Where: Various Cohn restaurants
Online: See menus, wineries and other details for all the events at cohnrestaurants.com
* Winemakers from two San Diego wineries will host a lunch at Indigo Grill, in Little Italy, on Sept. 18. Father-daughter team Al and Alysha Stehly of Escondido 's Stehleon Vinyards will join Justin Mund, winemaker for Orfila Vineyards and Winery, also in Escondido, for the four-course, six-wine pairing.
The lunch is an opportunity to experience the spectrum of local wines, from newer and small (Stehleon) to long-established and large (Orfila). The winemakers take different approaches, with distinct results, but they share a passion for the potential of quality wine in the county. (Noon; $59.95; 619-234-6802)