This weekend marked the soft opening of Vinavanti Urban Winery in Hillcrest, the new headquarters for Vinavanti winemaker/owner Eric Van Drunen, who relocated his eight-year-old winery from its Sorrento Valley facility into a thoroughly-renovated 3,300-square-foot space on University Avenue that's now open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Made with grapes sourced from San Diego County, the natural, unoaked and unfiltered wine under the Vinavanti label include San Diego's first certified organic wine, "The Maverick", a 50/50 field blend of Petit Verdot and Malbec, plus a 2012 Mourvèdre, a 2014 Rosé of Grenache and Cinsault and its popular 2011 GSM (2011 Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre). Van Drunen also produces wine for Los Pilares, and will feature Los Pilares' "BPN", a sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon made "pét-nat" style. There are also four wines on tap, available in refillable "litro" bottles, and a rotating assortment of guest wines; the opening list features local Vesper Vineyards. All wines are available by the glass, bottle or flight, which range from prix fixe selections to build-your-own flights of five wines.
Other beverages include craft beer on tap and in bottles, plus house cocktails that include red vermouth with tonic and mint and applejack stirred with orange bitters and agave syrup. The wine-friendly food menu consists of toasts topped with everything from sea urchin with sherried onion and cilantro to sous vide pork tenderloin, yellowtail crudo, roasted beets and warm brie with pickled peppers and raw honey; each variation is available in sets of three or seven pieces.
Vinavanti plans on holding cellar tours which will include guided tastings, as well as hosting movie nights and special events to benefit local charities; its official grand opening, scheduled for Saturday, December 5 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., will donate a portion of proceeds to support the non-profit San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project.