Shawn’s on Congress
Margaritas may be ubiquitous in Old Town but what if you prefer to drink wine? It can easily be had at Shawn’s on Congress. With ample patio seating outdoors year round and indoors at the lengthy granite bar or back room, the elegantly casual ambiance is a good place to visit for a pre-theatre apertivo, for happy hour (3:00-6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and all day Sunday), or watch a game with the regulars. From the friendly proprietors, Shawn, and his lovely spouse, Karina, to the diverse wine and beer selections, there are bountiful charcuterie plates, flat breads, and salads available. Besides, Shawn also weaves a good yarn and the witty banter between him and the cook, Tony, is very entertaining.
Originally, from Poughkeepsie, New York, Shawn made San Diego his home via his time as a Marine. Now he is the only licensed, bonded, residential wine maker in San Diego under the label Blue Felt Winery. This San Diego “vins de garage” winemaker produced a very impressive Syrah (2014) from Jamul-sourced fruit that is rich in dark berry fruit, savory black olive and umami aromas with a delicate tannic grip. His strawberry Riesling is also quite popular and both are available for purchase at the wine bar.
The wine list contains a nice selection of Old and New World choices from France, Spain and Italy, Chile, Argentina and California. There is a nice representation of sparklers, ports, blends, and reserve wines (Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 1964, for example). San Diego County wineries are also well represented here and I understand that there will soon be at least one Valle de Guadalupe, Baja, Mexico, winery featured. And did I say beer? San Diego craft beers are on draft and change regularly as well as California bottle selections and some ciders from Washington.
Hours of operation are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Or join us on the Winery Train Tour and we'll take you to Shawn's.
Post a photo of yourself on San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours Facebook Page eating or drinking at Shawn's on Congress, tag Shawn's on Congress, and get a coupon for $10 off any of our beer or wine tours, AND a chance to win 2 free tickets to the Winery Train Tour!
Marti Bommarito, WSET 3, Tour Guide for San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours
Photo courtesy: FritasShack.com
It's one of the hottest holidays of the year for lovers of food and drink — in the United States, at least. Cinco de Mayo (known affectionately as Cinco de Drinko) can be an excuse to drink tequila until you hit the floor, or it can be celebrated the right way: by sampling some of Mexico's world-class food and drink.
Here's the best part: you don't even have to leave San Diego to do it!
San Diego is right on the Mexican border, and so it's dripping with some of the best Mexican foods, brews, and wines that you've ever tasted in your life. Whether you're sampling some of the high-end moles and tequilas of Cantina Mayahuel, or you're enjoying the arts and scenery of Barrio Logan at Border X Brewing, or even checking out the lucha-themed splendor of Lucha Libre Taco Shop, this is one of the only places to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in an authentic way!
Cinco de Mayo isn't hugely celebrated in Mexico, and it isn't Mexican Independence Day — it's the anniversary of the Batalla de Puebla, in which Mexican troops scored a long-odds victory against the French. It is acknowledged with parades and parties in Puebla and elsewhere around Mexico, but it isn't a national holiday. It didn't become a big party (much like St. Patrick's Day) until it hit the United States! From there, of course, it spread.
So for an authentic Cinco de Mayo experience, you should look within the US. We know just the places to go. (And, as always, please drink responsibly!)
Amadora de Cerveza y Vino
If you're in San Diego, you probably have noticed the fact that it is raining. Not just any rain, either — it's a true-blue El Niño, one storm after another lined merrily up to dump some long-overdue moisture on our parched and cracking soil.
While the rain is undeniably good for everyone in the region, it can put a damper (pun intended) on outdoor activities. The animals are almost all in hiding at the San Diego Zoo, walking around Sea World is a chore, and hiking up a steep and muddy hill? Forget about it.
But, of course, that's what we are here for. Whether you're visiting or you live here, we have delightful and delicious ideas for your activities, all of which, of course, involve wonderful wines, lip-smackingly delicious beers, and some of the best food you've ever had anywhere to pair with it.
We understand that the last thing you probably want to do in one of America's sunniest cities is traipse around in the rain. But we wouldn't make you do that. We'll just come pick you up or meet you, and then take you on a warm, dry tour of the best breweries, wineries, and restaurants in beautiful San Diego.
Brooke B., Rainy Day Friend
San Diego Restaurant Week is almost here!
It should go without saying that we love San Diego's food scene. We may be San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but tasting beer and wine without knowing what foods to pair them with takes at least half the joy out of the whole experience!
That's why we always offer food on our beer and wine tours. When you correctly pair, it brings out nuances and dimensions to your drink – and your food – that you never knew existed. It's like a voyage of discovery with every meal!
San Diego's craft beer scene has been extolled and admired as one of the best on the planet for years, and with good reason. Its wine scene is also gaining attention, too, as more people realize how wonderful it is. But the food scene here is one of the region's best-kept secrets.
We're committed to changing that, and that's why we're such huge supporters of San Diego's Restaurant Week. Everyone should get out during the week of January 18th through the 24th and check out the menus! Participating restaurants offer special, prix-fixe menus so that you can sample as many as you like without a big dent to your wallet. It's totally worth it to be able to explore!
And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that as huge supporters of San Diego's food scene, we also organize food and drink tours that showcase some of the best, most scrumptious meals (and beers and vino too) that you can find anywhere.
So eat, drink, and be merry with us, because tomorrow… well, tomorrow there will be more of the same!
Here's to a delicious life,
Brooke B., Gastronomix
It's the spookiest time of the year!
Halloween is on its way. Kids are donning costumes, scary movies are all over Netflix, and ghosts are wailing in the trees (or is it just the Santa Ana?).
But we haven't forgotten about that other celebration of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day: Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That's the Mexican celebration of the dead, where you can go to the graveyards and talk to your loved ones who have passed on.
We are so close to Mexico here in southern California that we would be remiss if we didn't mention Baja California's vibrant beer and wine scene. But you shouldn't have to cross any international borders to sample them, if you don't want to!
First up, let's talk about the craft beer scene, which in no way stops at the international border. We absolutely love Cucapa, which is out of Mexicali, and now is readily available in San Diego.
A pair of binational brothers, Ivan and Damien Morales, have a tiny but great brewery out of Tijuana called Cerveceria Insurgente (Insurgent Brewing or Revolutionary Brewing) that is currently collaborating with Stone for something that will be truly delicious.
And then there's Mexico's wineries, which are the among the oldest in the New World. Their wines are fruity and delicious, but sometimes a little minerally and salty – a byproduct of the soil in which the grapes grow. Whether or not that is your thing is a matter of taste, but it definitely sets Baja's wines apart from the rest!
We'll also be brewing up wine and beer tastings this weekend, so grab your favorite calavera pals and taste some cerveza and vino with us.
It'll be an eerily fun time!
Brooke B., Calaca
Today is National Red Wine Day! And what a glorious day it is. It's the day when we take a moment to sit back, take a sip, and really appreciate red wine. What, you say? That's every day? Well, read on for tips on how to appreciate it more!
First of all, wine is history in a glass. No matter what you drink, you're sipping on the sun, the sky, the soil, the climate, and the temperament of the place your wine was born. It contains the minerals that nurtured it, the light that warmed it, the chill of the starry nights that helped the grapes grow. In short, it embodies the character of a place like nothing else you could eat or drink, and in the most delightful and delicious way possible.
And while people have been fermenting beverages throughout human history, red wine has a special place in history. Egyptians associated it with blood and therefore considered it sacred. Europeans loved red wine so much that explorers brought and planted their own grapes wherever they landed.
This is not to say that white wine, or orange wine, or green wine, or rosé are not glorious things to taste as well. We just think that red wine deserves an appropriately reverent attitude today, and really, every day. That's why we have our wine tours, so you, too, can enjoy the complexities of California's history and delicious climate in every glass.
Brooke B., Oenophile
Posted in bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
September is a very special month to us, and one that we always greet with great happiness. It's National Wine Month, and September 15th through the 19th is National Wine Week. And best of all, governor Jerry Brown has just proclaimed this month California Wine Month, too – especially in light of the big earthquake in Wine Country.
Not only does this mean the wine world is chock-full of wondrous deals and promotions that translate to more fun for you, it's also one of the best times of the year for wine, at least in and around San Diego and – harvest time.
We've talked about how great the harvest is in the past, but we'd like to point out that this is also a great time to get to know new vineyards in the region, especially since so many new ones are about to start sprouting up, since San Diego County recently changed the rules and made it a lot easier to cut through the red tape you need to start your own vineyard.
So, come out with us and get to know some new wineries as we celebrate this wonderful time of year! You'll be glad you did. We were!
Brooke B., Wine-ocerous
We know we're called San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, but we don't just deal with beer and wine. In fact, we never have. We understand that beer and wine without wonderful food pairings is like having peanut butter without the jelly, ice cream without the sprinkles, yin without yang – you get the picture.
All of our tours, as a matter of fact, include food tastings to go with your beverages – the equivalent of a full meal. We don't just tour the finest wineries and breweries in San Diego. Our tours are filled with the best food this town has to offer, no matter what you're in the mood for!
It's a great way to savor the best gourmet, farm-to-table fare while you sip without having to commit to the price of a full meal. Plus, you get to answer one of life's eternal questions: what's better with pizza, beer or wine? (Answer: Both, of course. And don't forget champagne, too.)
Worried about calories? Don't be! First of all, you won't be getting overprocessed food – we deal with only the best food made with the highest-quality ingredients, and our walking tours will burn them right off.
We don't stop with beer and wine pairings. We also have whiskey tours – we've found that Chedi Thai Bistro's food works beautifully with owner and chef Pia's creations.
And in case you're not in a drinking mood, rejoice. We have suggestions for wonderful non-alcoholic drinks to pair with food as well!
In other words, we have something for everybody and we proudly support the small businesses that produce the tastiest and freshest foods in San Diego.
Here's to health, good food, and lip-smackingly delicious libations!
Brooke B., Epicure
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Health, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
The temperature's a-changing and fall's on its way. We have talked at length before about our love for southern California in the autumn, haven't we? Well, we'll talk about it again. It's one of the most beautiful times of year – drought notwithstanding – because while we don't get the spectacular rainbow-hued leaves and chilly weather you might find elsewhere, we have our own unmistakable signs that the seasons are changing.
One such sign is the marine layer. It lingers a little longer this time of year, making the mornings just a little cooler and more overcast. When the sun finally peeps through the coastal clouds, it's not so warm. In fact, the conditions are perfect for a day at the beach so that you can watch the rays sparkle on the waves. Further inland, the mountains and foothills are spectacular under a sky that isn't that particular shade of azure anywhere else in the world.
But one of the best parts of San Diego's fall season is the grape harvest. That's when you know autumn has arrived! Harvest time is the best time of year for winemakers and wine lovers alike, although we know it's a bit more exhausting for them than it might be for us. There are parties, wine tastings galore, and – our most favorite of all – a grape stomp. Who doesn't love a good stomping? They're all over the place for the next couple of months, from Julian to Escondido and beyond!
If you're interested in joining the party, contact us! We're all about a good harvest celebration, and we know where the best ones are.
Here's to the changing of the seasons!
Brooke B., Seasoned Wino
The second Sunday in August is a very special day. As of 2010, it's been “Spirit of `45 Day.” It was passed unanimously by Congress, and the first Spirit of `45 Day fell on August 14th, the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Spirit of `45 Day was created first and foremost to commemorate the ordinary people who lived through the Second World War and the mettle shown by surviving members of the Greatest Generation as they rebuilt the United States after the end of the war. Another, very important reason was to remind the world that the United States is committed to never allowing a world war to happen again..
We, too, would like to honor these ordinary heroes, the men and women of World War II, so in the Spirit of `45, we are offering $4.50 off any of our Train Tours or our Chauffeured Wine Country Tour between now and the end of August. There's no better way to celebrate than tipping back a locally brewed ale. San Diego's beer scene emphasizes the solidarity and the can-do spirit that characterizes the United States at its best.
Here's to the Spirit of `45, and we'll see you on a tour!
Brooke B., Andrews Sister