Known for serving more than 30 domestic and international wines by the glass alongside an array of appropriately friendly food options, The Wine Pub serves up happy locals seven days a week (with specials on five of the days).
For the past three years, the Point Loma bar/restaurant's owner Sandy Hanshaw has teamed up with Baja Wine + Food’s Fernando Gaxiola to host sold out tours helping introduce wine enthusiasts to Valle de Guadalupe — the happening winemaking region in Mexico.
The team is now unveiling their latest tour opportunity for locals, an exploration of the exploding craft beer and street food scene in Tijuana and Ensenada. Launching with the first tour on Sept. 22, the tour includes a taco vs. tostada showdown in Tijuana, a stop at Ensenada’s La Guerrerense, which Anthony Bourdain called “the best street cart in the world,” fish tacos at the famous El Fenix, brewery tours and tastings at Cervecería Agua Mala and Wendlandt Cervecería, dinner by the water at Popotla Fisherman’s Village, and finale toasts at Plaza Fiesta’s craft beer garden.
Ahead of the tour, PACIFIC spoke with Hanshaw to find out more about the two tours, wine “virgins” and, of course, what you’ll be drinking.
PACIFIC: How did you hook up with Fernando and Baja Wine + Food?
SANDY HANSHAW: We were both at SommCon here in San Diego three years ago. I had just gone down to the Valle, and absolutely fell in love. I was on a mission to find someone to educate and take people down. (Gaxiola) ran the panel at SommCon, we met, and we’ve been doing this for three years!
What’s something unique that sets your wine tour apart from others?
We always meet with the winemakers and owners, not like typical tastings where you sit or stand in the tasting room. We get the VIP treatment due to Fernando’s relationships — everyone knows him there! You feel like you’ve been taken in by family. On a recent trip, we went down into the wine cave and ate at a family table with the winemaker.
What varietals can folks expect to taste in the Valle?
Nebbiolo is a big grape there, and a few of the winemakers are Italian. Also Grenache and some roses from Grenache. They do cabernet and merlot, also sangiovese, syrah, and mourvedre. Big reds dominate.
You’re making us thirsty. What about food?
We do a family-style dining experience at one of the wineries there. We sit at a big table, and Fernando does the ordering. We have a free for all, from fresh oysters to beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and smoked meats, like lamb or quail. We pair each course with wines.
Favorite Valle memory?
We do an introduction in the van on the way down, and a lot of times we get what we call “virgins” (those who have never been to the Valle) and it’s cool to watch their eyes open. They cannot believe the beauty of the people and the space. It’s raw and rustic; what I imagine Napa or Sonoma 60 years ago. They are blown away.
Ok, let’s talk about the new beer and food tour. What’s the scoop?
It’s run fairly similar to the wine tour. That part comes from my husband’s beer passion; we thought it would be fun and that scene is blowing up down there as well. It’s become especially exciting in the past year. We will be focusing on TJ and Ensenada. My husband has pretty high standards, and everywhere we are going meets his criteria.
How’s the feel different from the wine tour?
We are doing more street food, so it’s a little more rustic, visiting cool street food spots, and having a tacos vs. tostadas taste-off. Each stop will be paired with craft beer.
What do you want people to know who are considering a tour with The Wine Pub?
It’s a unique experience to enjoy time with friends and get to know people on these tours. We create friendships that last beyond the trip. Fernando and I are passionate about this area, and that energy overflows into our day trips.
The next major event at The Wine Pub will be a four-course dinner on Nov. 6 with Fernando Pérez Castro, wine producer and owner of Lomita.
2907 Shelter Island Dr. #108, 619.758.9325, https://www.thewinepubsd.com/