Previously operating in Hillcrest as Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego's community of urban wineries continues to grow with the just soft-opened winery and tasting room, Charlie & Echo. Located off Miramar Road, here owner Eric Van Drunen has put down new roots with his re-branded concept and 1,900-square-foot winery, which boasts an intimate tasting room.
Van Drunen, a long-time local winemaker and president of San Diego Urban Wine Week, tells Eater while they will still make natural wines sourced locally, the focus is shifting more toward fun and unusual sparkling wines.
“We're an urban winery crafting unique sparkling and natural wines. We do more sparklings now than anyone I know of in San Diego County, and we'll keep expanding. We also do a lot of wines naturally, with no additions of yeast (all wild fermentations) or other chemicals, including sulfites.”
All Charlie & Echo grapes are sourced locally, and produce the only certified organic wine in San Diego: wild fermented and bottle conditioned, production is more like a high-end beer than traditional wine.
The industrial park location also boasts likeminded neighbors, including Protector Brewing, 2kids Brewing, Align Brewing, India Street Winery and Setting Sun Sake. Across the street there’s Thunderhawk Alements, with Serpentine Cider and Lost Cause Meadery coming soon. Van Drunen says it might just be the only place where a person can easily walk to four breweries, two wineries, a cidery, a meadery and a sake brewer in San Diego.
A grand opening party will be held on Saturday, June 3 during San Diego Urban Wine Week, where visitors can enjoy Van Drunen’s most beloved bottles, the “DS9” carbonic Mataro just for Wine Week and special one-day selections, plus bites from Scugnizzi pizza, neighboring Deli Sushi, and Mister G's salsa.
Open from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday and until 6 p.m. Sunday, the tasting room does not have a kitchen onsite but there are plans to host a regular roster of food trucks this summer in connection with neighboring fermenters. Look out for cask conditioned sparkling wines too, with "real wine" cask weekends.