Happy Holidays from San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!

Post Date: November 29th, 2015
Photo Courtesy: Flickr user Alan Cleaver

Photo Courtesy: Flickr user Alan Cleaver

Holy crackers, it's the holiday season again. 

Thanksgiving and Black Friday have come and gone, and you can practically hear the collective sigh of relief that the heaviest shopping day of the year is over. Oh, but wait! Cyber Monday's coming up, too!  

It's so hard to get people that perfect gift, too.  You want to get them something they'll value, that they'll remember, that will make them think of you – but, even if you find a great gift for one person, you can't just blow all your money and time finding the next trinket, and the next, and the next.  What's a gift buyer to do?

Relax, that's what! Research shows that it's better across the board to pursue experiences rather than material possessions. The science backs us up, and we love when that happens!  Rather than aggregate more and more stuff, spend your money on things to do, memories to make, making new friends, and sharing new things with people you love.  

That's where we come in.  We love offering the best experience possible for your friends and family.  We'll show you one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, introduce you to some of the best people around, and we'll take you around in style while sampling some of the best food and drink you've ever had!

So would you rather deal with the panic of last-minute holiday shopping, waiting in traffic and long lines, and having anxiety attacks over wrapping paper, or would you rather be sipping a glass of wine in a picturesque spot with your feet up with your favorite people as your chauffeur gets ready to take you to the next destination?

Sounds like an easy choice to us.  We're available for beer and wine tours all year long. Give us a call! Let's talk.

Brooke B., Holiday Helper

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Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!

Post Date: November 1st, 2015

Photo (c) Brooke Binkowski 2014. All rights reserved.

Someone get this guy a beer!

San Diego is a very special place for a number of reasons. First, there's the remarkable weather: mostly gentle and warm, with a Mediterranean climate and miles of the most glorious coastline anyone's ever seen.  Then, there are the people: friendly and kind and — not to toot our own horns or anything — but San Diegans have been named some of the best looking people in the country for years, a combination of our lifestyle choices, the outdoor living, and… well, it's probably something to do with our amazing craft beer scene!

But there's another reason San Diego is special, and that's the proximity to the international border.  Our culture is deeply infused with all things Mexico, from our whitewashed, ranch-style homes to our delicious San Diego-style tacos to our slang… and our holidays.  All over San Diego, people are celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a colorful and festive party to commemorate and honor all of our loved ones who have passed on to the great unknown.  It's not a somber affair, but an exciting and beautiful one, with flowers, dancing, offerings for the dead, and and food and drink for the living.

Naturally, beer is often a big part of honoring our departed loved ones. In San Diego, where beer (like everything else here) transcends borders, you can find Cerveza de los Muertos (Beer of the Dead) beers, courtesy of Cerveceria Mexicana S.A. de C.V.  They get mixed reviews, but if you like your beers light, you'll really enjoy them.  Plus, their label art is — ahem — to die for.  There's also a brand-new, as-yet unrated beer by Unknown Brewing Co. called "El Corazon Que Sangra Morado," their Day of the Dead release (it means "my heart bleeds purple," because it's brewed with purple corn.)   

If neither of those floats your boat, but you still want to go with a local, yet binational drink, try a cerveza from Border X Brewing, in San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood. Their beers have quickly made a name for themselves, with good reason: they're absolutely delicious, whether you're trying out a Blood Saison (flavored with hibiscus and agave) or an Horchata Golden Stout (self-explanatory.)  

Enjoy!  Just don't forget to tip one back for your dearly departed.

Brooke B., Cervecerita

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Happy National Cat Day from San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!

Post Date: October 29th, 2015

This week isn't just the leadup to Halloween.  It also contains a very special day, one that everyone should celebrate, one with a near-universal appeal.

We're talking about National Cat Day, of course. Photo courtesy; Flickr user Helena Jacoba  

What better time to tell your furry feline friends how much you appreciate them? Sure, they may not understand.  More likely, however, is that they just don't care what you think, because they're cats.  But you can still show them you love and appreciate them! And you can do so the way you show everyone you care about how much you love them – with beer and wine!

Okay, first of all: don't ever give your cat wine or beer that's intended for humans.  Just don't. It'll hurt the cat and plus you want all that to yourself.  Right? Right. 

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, check this out: Wine for cats. Never drink alone again!  This concoction, made from grape juice and perhaps a twist of catnip, contains no alcohol, but apparently does taste a lot like wine. Like your cat cares. Once you get a glass or two of catnip into Fluffy, it's a free-for-all and there's no telling what he might do! Er, we've heard.

If you feel like drinking in front of your cat instead of with your cat (and we totally get it), check out one of the many, many cat-themed tipples out there.  It seems like cats and drink are one of the most perfect matches on the planet. There's Black Cat VineyardFat Cat Cellars, White Cat, Laughing Cat, and the list goes on and on – and that's just the vino!  

Still searching for your perfect drink? How about your perfect cat? How about both? Check out this online quiz and get back to us with your result.   

If you're a beer lover, and of course you are, you might be feeling a little bit left out by now. Don't worry. We'll never forget our fellow cerevisaphiles or our fellow ailurophiles.  We may have even saved the best for last – you decide. It's an Instagram channel dedicated to beer… and cats.  It's called, appropriately enough, Beer Cats.  You can follow it yourself (it's got more than 11,000 followers on Instagram!) or add your own #beercat.  Either way, enjoy the visual feast.

Even if you don't have a cat, this Thursday is a great time to appreciate one, whether it's when you're drinking away the evening together or simply appreciating photos of your favorite cats and kittens with your favorite beers.  The cats in your life will appreciate it, too. Or maybe they won't.  You can never tell with those guys.

Cheers, pointy ears!
Brooke B., Web Fursonality

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Golf and Beer: The Best of San Diego On Tap

Post Date: October 1st, 2015

San Diego has a lot going for it.  

Photo Courtesy: Flickr user Kulicki

Beaches, mountains, great weather, great people, great beer – and great golf.  It's a well-kept secret that San Diego has some world class golf courses – more than 90 throughout the county – and they're all great for different reasons.  Of course, some are harder to get into than others (some especially dedicated golfers are known to sleep in their cars just to be able to get an early spot at Torrey Pines) but they're all worth a shot.  Or a draw.  Or whatever. 

October 4th is National Golf Lovers Day, so it's a great time to celebrate your love for the game, rekindle affection for it, or learn to love it!  It's also a great excuse to leave work early to go spend some time on the course.  

But this isn't just about the subtle game of golf and the beautiful places you can play in San Diego. It's also about a topic that's near and dear to the hearts of many players: craft beer.  Golf and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly, and if you're not a regular player you might be surprised to know that some of the best places to get an affordable meal and a brew in San Diego, while enjoying excellent views, are golf courses.

Don't believe us?  Check out Riverwalk Golf Club, smack in the heart of Mission Valley.  Sure, its green is great, but it's easy to get hungry and thirsty out there – that's why its Sunset Grill offers meals, snacks, and – most importantly – a full array of craft brews.  But hurry – there are plans to close this course over the next decade.

Balboa Park Golf Course, which is also in a really central part of San Diego (surprisingly enough, in Balboa Park) boasts two courses, but also the timeless charm of Tobey's 19th Hole and its tasty diner-style fare and generous drinks.  It's delicious, reasonably priced, rarely crowded – and, oh yeah, offers local beers for great prices. Go there and tip one back while you look out over the untroubled green.  You also get to sit high up, so you can pretend you're in your own private castle. Or maybe that's just us.

Mission Bay Golf Course is one of the few places in San Diego, if not the only place, that offers night golfing.  There isn't a dedicated sit-down restaurant on site, so it's a little different, but it's blocks from the beach.  The course is short, so you can stop by, finish up in a couple of hours, and then wander over to the Iron Pig Alehouse for upscale BBQ, or Luce Bar & Kitchen for upscale Ameican cuisine and tip back a cold, fresh local beer while you're at it.  If you finish up early enough, you can get some great happy hour deals on grub, too! 

Golf and beer are a winning combination no matter how you look at it, especially here in San Diego, where it's one of the best places in the world for both.  But they're not just great fun together.  They're the secret to living a long and happy life – which, in the end, is the best reason to enjoy yourself on a local course of all. We're not kidding! This lady said so, and she's an expert. Plus, she's any indication, you'll look great in the process.

Just keep in mind one thing. Imbibe responsibly! As the great golfer (and drinker) Dean Martin once said: “If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt.” Words to live by.

Brooke B.,
Beer Bogey

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Happy October from San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!

Post Date: September 25th, 2015



October is here, again! Already! It's a wonderful time of year.  Time to break out your best pumpkin carving skills and Halloween or Day of the Dead decorations, because the autumn winds are blowing away the last bits of El Nino humidity and making it the beautiful season it always is in San Diego!

It's possible to find some scary good wines out there to augment your grown-up costume party, and it doesn't have to be a terrifying experience.  So if you're looking around for something new, try one of these ideas on for size.

If you're rushing to the supermarket, don't just grab the same tired old chardonnay you've been getting for the past couple of years. In fact, don't get chardonnay at all. Everybody loves chardonnay, so try something different. Plus, it's fall. Go for a big bold California red! But not too big.  Don't get one of those oversized wine bottles – they're not going to be great. 

Buy local. San Diego's wines are finally enjoying a moment of good press, but the fact is, they've been here a long, long time. Some of California's oldest vintages, in fact, come from here. And a lot of them are  really, really good. If you can't find San Diego wine, grab a California wine.

But if you're going the grocery store route, buy young and fresh wines, not older vintages. That's because they're likely just getting moved around on the shelves and stored properly, so the older a wine is, the more likely to be bad it is going to be.  (There are exceptions to this rule, we know! But for last-minute party shopping, this is an excellent rule of thumb.)

You can also use a list like this one from Wine Folly, which shorthands what wines to look for from which regions.  Mapping out what you like beforehand can be enormously helpful when you're trying something new. 

And if you're in a real pickle, like you have ten minutes and need fifteen to get ready, we have to heartily recommend technology. Wine apps for your smartphone can take the most complex palate issues and break down what you're looking for to just a few easy-to-find bottles, all while staying within your price range.

But, if you have the time, don't ever forget the two best ways of all to keep your wine knowledge up-to-date and well-balanced: tasting as much wine as you can at any time, experimenting to find out what you like the most, taking note of where they're from, and keeping track.  That's one.  And if technology and personal experience fails, don't forget about asking your friendly local sommeliers what they're into!  They can cut straight to the chase and help you track down just what you're looking for.

So there you go. Finding a new wine on short notice doesn't have to be a scary experience.  That's what the morning after the Halloween party is for.  


Brooke B., 

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Happy Holiday Weekend! Beer Best Practices for Labor Day in San Diego

Post Date: August 31st, 2015


Labor Day is almost upon us again – already!  It's been an odd year, thanks to an El Nino that has kept things unseasonably warm, but now that warm weather is going to be a blessing, because this is the official weekend Americans love to get out and fire up their barbecue.

Burgers are the traditional grilled food of choice, but there's no need to worry too much about pairing your beer to your food. Since Labor Day is a time to hang around outside with friends, consider pairing your drinks to the weather instead!

Since the odds are that it's going to be a warm day, stock up on light beers with light flavors and a relatively low alcohol content so that you don't get thirsty and end up taking an impromptu nap and missing the party!  

IPAs, or India Pale Ales, are the granddaddy of the San Diego beer scene.  They're almost always a great choice in San Diego, but they can run a little strong.  If you are really looking forward to an IPA-filled day, Ballast Point's Sculpin seems to be one of the most popular choices – it's so tasty, and an all-around crowd pleaser.

If that's a bit much for you, give your tastebuds a break and try a saison (like Fallbrook Homegrown Saison!) or a Belgian-style witbier like Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment's cleverly-named Witte Snake (get it?!)

Helm's Brewings' O.G. Wheat is an odd little Gose-style beer: it's sour and brewed with coriander and salt.  It sounds weird, but it's absolutely delicious at any time of year, particularly in the heat.

There are, of course, plenty more beers to choose from in this wonderful town, and we're happy to take tips on how to best enjoy both the weather and the beer here.  So bottoms up, have a tip-top time, and enjoy your holiday weekend!

Brooke B., Summer Spirit

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The Wine Harvest Season Has Arrived in California!

Post Date: August 25th, 2015

grapes (1 of 1)-3

We're coming up on the end of August, the slow and heavy days where nothing seems to happen and the bustle of early summer has been replaced by sleepy, sultry afternoons.  These are the Dog Days, so called because Sirius, the Dog Star, rises with the sun this time of year, at least in our hemisphere.  

It's also the quiet interlude before Wine Country's biggest time of year: the harvest!  This is a great time to travel to California if you don't live here, or explore the region around you if you do, because there are all kinds of events that take place around harvest season.  

Harvest time lasts a couple of months, because some grapes take a little longer to ripen than others or are left a little longer on the vine.  It starts around September (although some grapes are picked in June or July!) and continues through November or so, at least in this hemisphere (in the southern hemisphere, this time of year stretches roughly from February through April.)  Most of the early part of the harvest is given over to white wine grapes, such as your chardonnays and sauvignon blancs, and, incidentally, pinot noirs, which are picked early in the season. 

The grapes that are left to ripen longer aren't necessarily for sweeter wines: they're also for the bigger bodied and higher-alcohol ones, like merlots and syrahs.  Some wines, in fact, have to be watered down because they're so high in alcohol.  Talk about overachievers.

But regardless of what grapes are getting picked, harvest time is a time of celebration and fun for everybody.  The events range from high-end dinners with wine pairings, to hayrides and tractor rides for people of all ages, to the biggest and best known part of the harvest, the Blessing of the Grapes, and our favorites – the Wine Stomps, where everyone rolls up their sleeves and their pants legs to become part of the fun!

The grape harvest has such a profound effect on California, both economically and socially, that for the 11th year running, the state's governor has declared September California Wine Month.  This means the entire state is studded with more festivities and winery parties than you could shake a trellis at!

So enjoy, salud, and go explore the wine options around here.  You'll find what you're looking for, and then some.  Don't forget to toast us!

Brooke B., Wine Worshiper 

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Spend Your Dog Days with the Coolest Summer Sips… and San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!

Post Date: July 4th, 2015

Photo Courtesy: Flickr user anoldent 

The dog days of summer are upon us. Hammock Day, July 22, 2015, is a way to celebrate the warmest days of the year by embracing the sunshine, grabbing a drink, and – you guessed it – basking in a hammock. San Diego Beer and Wine Tours invites you to enjoy the rest of your dog days by partaking in one of their various excursions which allows you to sit back and enjoy the best brews and wines of San Diego, car-free!

Their all-inclusive tours offer a VIP experience for you and your party to indulge in a "vine to glass" or "hop to table" experience with local food and wine or beer appreciated at the production facilities. The best part being that there is no need to drink and drive. Their guided tours provide transportation between the vineyards, winery, and brewery locations to reduce gas and parking expenses, and to keep you safe.

Winery Chauffeured Tours

With the most wine and food of all the tours, this tour is the whole experience. This tour features pick up and drop off from most locations within San Diego, about 18 wine pours, and an early dinner overlooking vineyard grounds.

Winery Train Tours

Drink in the coastal scenery as you hop on and off the coaster train. No need to drive. This popular tour features about 15 wines and a wine pairing light luncheon.

Beer Train Trolley Tour

Travel by rail and enjoy four breweries for flights of beer and luncheon. This tour features about 16 different beers and a brewery light lunch.

All Tours include wine or beer appreciation presentations by expert guides, behind-the-scenes tours, sightseeing, wine or beer tastings, farm-to-table food, games and prizes!

Tours run daily, year round, by appointment.

For more information, go to www.sdbeerwine.com or contact: 858.551.5115.

-Traci V., Intern

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Happy Fourth of July from San Diego Beer and Wine Tours!

Post Date: June 30th, 2015

Image Courtesy: Flickr user Golf Resort Achental

Image Courtesy: Flickr user Golf Resort Achental


Oh, hey! It's nearly July 4th already?  How did this happen so fast?  It feels like just yesterday that we were waiting up to see in the new year, and here it is Independence Day.  

We love the Fourth of July.  It's nice and warm, the day is long and punctuated by food and cold drinks, and at the end of it we get fireworks!  Usually, we put up a guide to pairing wines and beers with your barbecue foods, but this time, we've scoured the web to find ways for you to work your favorite drinks into your favorite summer recipes. 

If you're grilling beef, accompany it with a porter or stout reduction sauce to simultaneously tenderize it and bring out the smoky tanginess of the beer.  Reductions are super easy and really delicious – all it means is that you boil out some of the water, thereby reducing overall volume and concentrating flavors to make, yes, the perfect sauce.  When you use beer or wine as a reduction base, you also boil out the alcohol, so it can't get you (too) drunk – it'll just make you really, really happy. 

You can use equal parts water and beer or broth and beer, and whisk in your flavors (garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, whatever you like) to taste, then boil everything down until you have an incredible sauce.  Try out this amazing stout pan sauce or an incredible porter reduction recipe to start and just go from there! 

If you're trying sauces and reductions on for size for your chicken or fish dishes, you might want to go lighter. Try a honey-IPA combo for chicken, and go for citrusy with lighter-tasting fish, like a solid Hefeweizen. If you're a vegetarian, use darker beers with mushroom dishes, and lighter ones for other vegetables – or just experiment until you find something you love.  Experimenting with food and drink is the best kind of science!

If these beer reduction recipes whet your appetite, come sate it with us. We'll be offering beer, wine, and food tours to give you even more pairing and reduction ideas. Give us a call and book a tour with us at (858) 551-5115 and we'll talk food and drink all day long.

Happy eating and drinking, bottoms up, and happy Fourth of July!  Let freedom ring and your belly growl.

Brooke B., Freedom Fighter

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San Diego Beer & Wine Tours Loves IPAs!

Post Date: June 24th, 2015

Image Source: Flickr user Bernt Rostad

We officially entered summer in the northern hemisphere this week!

So far it's looking like a wonderfully mild summer – the stuff dreams of people who aren't lucky enough to live here are made of.  It also is looking more and more likely that we're entering an El Nino season, which means we might not have to worry so much about drought in the near future.  Hooray!

So now that we've finished talking about the weather, let's talk about what makes the summer so special in southern California – specifically, San Diego. If you think it's because of the beer, give yourself a gold star.  It's definitely the beer! Summer is when all the best local IPAs start to really shine, and they really are the best local IPAs.  West Coast IPAs were born and perfected right here in San Diego.

IPAs, in case you're wondering, are possessed of a wonderful citrusy astringence that goes beautifully with warm weather food and fun. San Diego pioneered the double and the triple IPA beer.  In fact, the term “West Coast IPA” was developed and then trademarked by our very own Green Flash Brewing Co.  

And people just looooove IPAs.  In fact, for the seventh year running, Russian River Brewing Co.'s Pliny the Elder was voted “Best Beer in America” by Zymurgy magazine.  Russian River is in Santa Rosa, not San Diego, but there's still a San Diego connection: Pliny the Elder's a double IPA, or a beer that, without San Diego, simply wouldn't exist!

And why are San Diego IPAs (and beers in general) so delicious?  As any beer fan will tell you around here – it's all in the water.  Not to mention the committed efforts of all the craft beer lovers who love it here and work hard together to make our city one of the best places to live on earth.

So drink up. It's getting hot out!

Brooke B., Summer Fling

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