Miralani Makers District is all about the craft

What happens when wineries, craft breweries, sake and cider producers, and restaurants all get together in the same San Diego 'hood? A must-visit craft hotspot called Miralani Makers District.

Located in Miramar on the corner of Camino Ruiz and Miralani Drive, the district features a variety of businesses with all craft products made onsite. Members include wineries Charlie & Echo and India Street Winery, Setting Sun Sake, Serpentine Cider, Mr. G's Salsa, Deli Sushi & Desserts, along with craft breweries Align Brewing Company, Protector Brewery, Thunderhawk Alements and 2Kids Brewing Co.

Two district movers and shakers, Eric Van Drunen of Charlie & Echo Wine and Dan Denison of India Street Winery talked to PACIFIC about the genesis of Miralani Makers District, which San Diego wines to try, and their perfect wine and food pairing.

How did you first become involved with forming the Miralani Makers District?

ERIC VAN DRUNEN: When we moved into our new location in May, we started chatting with the other craft producers about promoting the area as a destination, since together we have all the craft beverage bases covered - beer, wine, cider, mead, sake, and hopefully soon a distiller. It wasn't really any one person's idea - we've all been collectively on board with working together to promote the district.

DAN DENISON: It wasn't hard to see that something unique was happening and I think the same light bulb went off over all the owners' heads simultaneously. At the first meeting I've never seen such cooperation and agreement. Every decision about the direction of Miralani Makers District (MMD) seems to be made so easily.

What's the relationship between all of the businesses?

Van Drunen: We are all separate small businesses with the common bond of craft. We've already hosted a pub crawl for a non-profit and are collaborating on the upcoming San Diego Beer Week - even though we're a winery, we've got a sparkling sour that's very similar to a fruit lambic beer.

Favorite varietal?

Van Drunen: I'd say Zinfandel. It was my first wine love. When it's done a little lean with good pepper notes, it's hard to beat, and it is California's wine grape.

For someone who's never tried a San Diego-made wine, what would you recommend trying first?

Van Drunen: Most generally, I'd say Syrah. It grows well here in San Diego County with a range of expressions, and most wineries do a good job with it. Specifically, I'd say our 2015 Trinity Sparkling Sangiovese Rosé. Crisp, dry, refreshing - it goes great with our weather and can really surprise people with what can be grown and made in San Diego

Denison: Henry James called Southern California "Italy waiting for a history." The grapes that grow best down here are the Mediterranean varietal. We can do better Barbera and Sangiovese then anywhere in California. A couple of the best kept secrets are the quality of our Sauvignon Blanc and Cab Franc.

Perfect pairing?

Denison: I love to pair Barbera with food off the barbecue - cheeseburgers, ribs, sausages. The high acidity of the wine cleanses the palate from all the grease of the food. It's what we call a "bright red" - so it will be fruit forward with low tannins. I call it the "beer of wines."

Van Drunen: Our 2014 The Alchemist port-style wine and N.Y. cheesecake. The orange peel and spice notes of the wine marry with cheese flavors, while the sweet and astringent textures of the wine balance out with the sweet and savory characteristics of the cheesecake.

What's up next for the district?

Van Drunen: Many of the makers in the district are celebrating their grand openings or first years in the upcoming months. We're completing a logo for the district now, and will be getting some road signage along with poster-size directory maps for all the businesses. We'll also be putting together a social media presence for the district.

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