Category Archive: Prime cru

CRG Wine Month: Explore What You Love About Wine

Posted on August 18, 2017

CRG wine month

What do you love about wine? Is it the romanticism of drinking something that took a year to grow? Is it because it is a beverage balanced with alcohol, acidity and sweetness?  Or maybe you love that each time you drink wine you learn something new? Whatever the reason maybe, we all have one. Some of you may not be in love yet.  Hopefully, this month I can give you a reason to fall in love with wine.

I bring to you, CRG WINE MONTH. This September fall in love with wine. And for those of you who are already infatuated, its your chance to explore your feeling on a deeper level.  CRG WINE MONTH is a celebration of all things wine. My restaurants are offering promotions and specials such as roses for $5 a glass, $.10 glasses of wine and deep discounts on bottles during SD Restaurant Week.

Rose All Day

Wine and Dime


Food and wine lovers can experiment with thought out wine dinners.  Georges Daou will be at C-Level sharing his Paso Robles wines while overlooking the SD harbor and paired with Deborah Scott’s creative dishes. In north county, experience wines from high elevation vineyards. Stonestreet Winery from Alexander Valley teams up with chef Steven Zurkey at 333 Pacific for a culinary experience in taste and elevation. I will be at Vintana Wine + Dine teaching how to blind taste, followed by a Blind Wine Dinner.  You won’t know what you are drinking, but if you guess correctly you can win some fantastic prizes.  Wine is meant to go with food, and I plan on celebrating this to its core.

Daou Wine Dinner

Stonestreet Dinner










blind wine diiner











Learning is always fun. No matter how much you know about wine, there is always more to learn. To help you get on your way, I am holding a class on how to pair wine with food. There is a catch, I will be serving only Australian Wines. If you haven’t heard what is going on down under, then you are in for a surprise. See what I am talking about here.


Food and wine pairing

We cannot kick off a wine month without a festival. Whether you are looking for true love or a one night stand, The CRG Wine Festival is for everyone. Not only will we have live music, food, photo booths and wine tastings; but we are taking it to another level. There are interactive stations where you will get a chance to hone your skills and win tickets redeemable at the wine shop.  Get your friends together and participate in Family Feud. You can visit the bind wine tasting table, blind grape tasting table or blind aroma table. Maybe you ‘d rather learn how to make wine or challenge yourself to blend my Baja wine, Costa Tierra. Afterwards, the wine shop will have wines for you to buy at ridiculously low prizes.  I guarantee when September is done, you will be on cloud nine with wine.



California Wine Month 2016

Posted on August 26, 2016

california wine month

September is just upon us and it is my favorite month of the year.  The kids have gone back to school, the beaches are not so crowded and we get to celebrate California Wine Month again!  Last year I hosted wine dinners, tastings and promotions in all my restaurants.  This year I am going bigger!   Check out what I’m up to!



If you are the foodie who wants to see what our chefs perform under fire, then the wine dinners are the best option for you.  I am hosting 5 wine dinner/lunches in September, each different and all with California wines.

333 Pacific Napa Wine Dinner

The first dinner is on September 1st at 333 Pacific featuring Napa Valley wines.  Steve Zurkey, the talented chef at 333 will blow you away.  His Mondavi dinner in June was one the best meals I have had in San Diego.  I do not say this because he works for my company, but because it was the god honest truth.  Everyone walking out from that meal was awestruck.  He is back again and this time pairing the Napa wines of Cliff Lede, Alto, Kuleto and Merus.

Sonoma Wine Dinner

Why not stay in Northern California and see what makes Napa and Sonoma so different from each other.  After attending the Napa dinner in Oceanside, head to Escondido the following week and try the wines of Sonoma at Vintana Wine + Dine.  Foley Wines will be showcasing their Sonoma wines from some of their top vineyards.  Chef Bryan Brown is an old hat at these dinners and is always outdoing himself.  He gets to play with flavors from the kitchen and pair them with the wines of Schug, Mazzocco, Roth and Chalk Hill.

Organic Wine Dinner

September 11th we get socially responsible.  Bo Beau Kitchen + Garden in La Mesa will have chef Tyler Shipton pairing organic produce and meats with Frog’s Leap Winery from Napa.  Our Organic Wine Dinner features the wines of John Williams, pioneer of organic farming since the 80’s.  Frog’s Leap continues to produce high quality wines using sustainable farming techniques which restore and promote the ecosystem.  Unfortunately September is a tough month for winemaker’s to get away from harvest, John will not be able to join us.  He will be there in spirit and Gail & Dan Berquist who distribute his wines in San Diego for the past several decades will be on hand to discuss them.

San Diego Winemaker Lunch

Sometimes you want to have wine during the day, so Indigo Grill has just the thing for you.  Enjoy a Sunday afternoon in Little Italy and join Chef Deborah Scott for a Luncheon on September 18th.  This will be an intimate lunch with two of my favorite wines from San Diego County, Orfila and Stehleon.  Both Justin Mund, winemaker for Orfila and Al Stehly, owner of Stehloen share their experiences with you over lunch. If you have not tried the wines from your back yard, this is the time to do so.  These wines are fantastic and soon will put San Diego on the map.

Paso Robles Wine Dinner

We then will head down towards Southern California on September 22nd and host a Paso Robles wine dinner at OB Warehouse with Adam Lazarre.  If you are looking to have a good time and get away from stuffy pompous dinners, then this is the one for you. Adam is one of the craziest wine makers I know. He is all about having fun while making delicious wine.  We will feature several of Lazarra wines along with some of his friend’s wineries such as Cypher and Broadside. OB is the perfect place for this event.


September 1oth Coasterra will host a VIP viewing area of the Fleet Week Sea & Air Parade and California Wine Tasting on the new Harbor Float overlooking the San Diego Bay and the city skyline.  The Sea & Air show is a spectacular event where the US military parades its air crafts and battleships on the San Diego Bay.  To make this even that much better I have invited 20 California wineries to pour their wines and commemorate California Wine Month.  Chef Deborah Scott will provide action food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres.  This event is a walk around event is standing room only.

 Sea & Air Parade

September 17th Sea 180 Coastal Tavern has invited California sparkling wine producers to come and pour their sparkling wines as we pair them with oysters.  We call it Oysters and Bubbles! There will be tray passed hors d’oeuvres, oyster shucking demonstrations, cocktail sauce and mignonette making and best of all oyster and bubbly wine slurping.  All this will take place on the poolside patio overlooking the white sands and blue waters of Imperial Beach. To add a little vibe, Adrian Ahearn, our favorite steel drum player, will provide the mood with his island tunes.



Finally, after all this celebration I tone down the partying and get serious about education.  On Saturday September 24th at Island Prime Restaurant I will hold a seminar and tasting on the History of California Wine.  I teach a 3 week course at SDSU’s Business of Wine Program titled the California Wine Intensive.  This 2 hour seminar is a condensed version of that course.  We will taste 10 wines which exemplify California’s history.  This is a classroom style tasting, hors d’oeuvres will be served following class and all the wines will be available for purchase.

California wine history



From September 6-15th, I have several of our restaurants participating in my favorite promotion of the year, WINE & DIME.  For ten days, there will be a list of ten wines for $.10.  Come in and buy 1 glass of wine at the regular price and get a second of equal or lesser value for $.10!  What a deal. The wines are all high quality wines from several of my partners such as Foley Wines and Treasury Wine Estates. The list will vary from restaurant to restaurant with a few staples at each location. Participating restaurants are 333 Pacific, Bluepoint, Bo Beau Ocean Beach, Bo Beau La Mesa, Gaslamp Strip Club, Indigo Grill, Island Prime & C-Level, Melting Pot, OB Warehouse, The Prado, Sea 180 & Vintana Wine + Dine.

Wine and Dime


We finish off the month with Restaurant Week.  This year Restaurant Week is from September 25th-October 2nd.  Our restaurants will offer special prices on bottles of California wine starting at $20 per bottle to be enjoyed with our Restaurant Week offering. What a great time to visit more than 1 restaurant a week, get a fantastic price on your meal and compliment it with a ridiculously low priced quality wine.

So much is going on in September!  Keep me in mind when you plan your month.  I have something for everyone. Happy California Wine Month!


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September Is California Wine Month, It Is The Law

Posted on August 26, 2015

California WIne Month

The Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown issued a proclamation that September 2015 is California wine month.  Wine and California is like peanut butter and jelly, Ferrari and Italy, Pele and Brazil; the two can’t live without the other, they are one.  Gerry Brown understands this and being at the forefront of California politics he understands the need for people to drink wine in September.  But did you know that September 15th- October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month? It cannot be more perfect.  California’s first wines were in Baja California and eventually moved up to San Diego and Los Angeles, eventually flourishing in Sonoma and Napa.  But it all started in Mexico.  So it only makes since that if we are going to celebrate California wine month, we celebrate both Alta and Baja California wines.

I take California wine month very seriously. After all, I teach the California Wine Intensive Course at SDSU’s Business of Wine, it only makes sense that I am involved in promoting the mandate passed down by Gerry.  There is rich wine history in California. California has been the catalyst for many trends and at the forefront of “wine technology”.   Think back to the beginning when we were planting Mission grape and making brandy.  Then immigrants brought with them traditions which changed winemaking.  They discovered how well Zinfandel, Petit Sirah, Carignan and many other grapes made for excellent field blends.  We then learned to plant single varieties and began to rival the best French wines with our Cabernets and Chardonnays of the ’70’s.  We put Merlot on the map and took it off the map.  We replaced it with Pinot Noir, showing the world that Pinot Noir can have many faces.  We learned to use science and chemistry to manipulate wines and make it taste any way we want year after year regardless of vintage.  Today many winemakers are looking to the past and coming around full circle.  More and more are moving away from wine manipulation and are taking a vested interest in natural wines and wines made in the vineyard and not the laboratory.  California has really come around.

To celebrate this endearing region, I will be featuring promotions, dinners and tastings throughout our family of restaurants all month-long.   Take a look at what the Cohn Restaurant Group has planned.  I hope to see some of you at 1 or 5 of these events!


To kick off the month we partnered with Foley Wines and three of our restaurants to explore the major regions of California.  Sea180 Coastal Tavern will host a Sonoma Wine dinner, Vintana Wine + Dine will host a Napa Wine dinner and OB Warehouse will host a Santa Barbara Wine dinner.  Each dinner will feature wines from Bob Foley’s California wine empire with wineries such as Kuleto’s, Firestone, Lincourt, Altvs, Lancaster and Chalk hill to name a few.  Best of all, attendees will automatically be registered for the Foley Food and Wine Society, an elite wine club.  As members of the wine club they can take advantage of discounts on wine trips, winery visits, hotels and other accommodations around the world.  They automatically qualify for special discounts when buying wine on-line, and wines can be shipped to any of the 50 states. This little perk, is our thank you for supporting our wine dinners.

Do you have a favorite region?  Is it Sonoma, Napa or Santa Barbara?  What! You don’t know?  Well, then try all three dinners and see if one stands out.  What a way to kick of a long month of California wine.  If you are interested in attending one or all of these dinners, call the restaurant directly to make your reservations. Click on the thumbnails below to view the menus.

Sonoma Wine Dinner

Tuesday, September 1st, SONOMA WINE DINNER

Napa Wine Dinner

Wednesday September 2nd, NAPA WINE DINNER        !!SOLD OUT!!

Santa Barbara wine dinner

Thursday, September 3rd, SANTA BARBARA WINE DINNER








WINE AND DIME September 8th-17th

Next, we run a ridiculous promotion at most of our restaurants.  Wine and Dime is where you get a chance to save money when drinking wine by the glass.  For ten days, order one glass of wine and get the second glass of equal or lesser value for $.10!!!  I know, what you are thinking, the wine must really suck.  But I have my reputation on the line and there is no way I would push wines that suck.  Each restaurant will have a unique list of California wines for you to choose from.  I think this is way better than Bev Mo, have you seen the wines they offer for 5 cents?  Here is a sample of what you get to try for $.10:  Lancaster Sauvignon Blanc, Voces Petit Sirah, Lincourt Courtney’s Vineyard Chardonnay, Milagro Farm Meritage, Roth “Heritage” red, Carucci Family Viognier and Chateau St. Jean Pinot Gris.

This promotion will go on for ten days!  We start on September 8th and go through September 17th. Stop in at one of our Cohn Restaurants and partake in the delicious savings.

Wine and Dime


Justin Isosceles Blending Seminar September 12th

The red blends of California have been regarded as some of  the best wines in the world.  California’s unique microclimates, varying soils and warm sunshine allows winemakers to plant many different types of grapes.  The Meritage blend was created in Bordeaux, but perfected in California.  A Meritage blend is a blend of at least two Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Blending wines to make a master wine is a difficult process.  It takes days to find the perfect blend.  Winemakers need to taste barrel after barrel, wine after wine and try to put those wines together to make a wine that stands out from the rest.  One of the California wines that has stood out over the years is the sought after, Justin Isosceles from Paso Robles.

On Saturday, September 12th, 333 Pacific we will hold a blending seminar where you will get a chance to try your skills at blending the Justin Isocelese.  The class will be led by Justin’s head sommelier, Jim Gerakaris. You will taste the different wines that make up the Isosceles and try to see how close you can come to creating an Isosceles.  Guests will compete to see who comes closest to making the Isosceles. Special pprizes will be given out to the winners.  Appetizers will be provided by 333 Pacific for you to enjoy on the patio terrace.

To make your reservation contact 333 Pacific.

Justin Winery Blending

 The Alta & Baja California Wine Tasting Tour September 19th

We now come to the middle of the month, September 19th and it all comes to a peak.  I will be hosting over 25 Alta and Baja California wineries at our newest Cohn Restaurant, Coasterra.  If you have not seen Coasterra, you will be blown away.  There is not one venue in San Diego that has the view that Coasterra has to offer. It sits next to Island Prime on the San Diego harbor directly facing the San Diego skyline.  The place is amazing!

We will be featuring traditional California wineries such as Hanzell, Ancient Peaks, Sebastiani, Swanson, Chalk Hill and Kuleto to name a few. Bringing Hispanic Heritage month together with California Wine month, wineries such as Renteria, Delgadillo, Voces and Robledo will be there to represent the Mexican-American roots of California.  Going one step further and bring back the history of California wineries from the birth place of California wine, Baja will be there too.  Meet the wineries from the Guadalupe Valley such as Monte Xanic, Santo Tomas, Lechuza and Cava Maciel.  Finally, to bring it all home, we will also have local San Diego wineries, Stehleon Vineyards and Vesper Vineyards showing off San Diego grown fruit.

Chef Deborah Scott will provide Mexican hors d’oeuvres from Coasterra’s modern Mexican kitchen.  This an event not to be missed.  Buy your tickets now on-line by clicking the link below.

Buy Tickets

Coasterra Tasting


Restaurant Week September 20th-27th

September is also San Diego’s Restaurant week.  This gives us an even better reason to continue celebrating Gerry Brown’s proclamation.  Each one of our restaurants will offer a California wine list with special prices.   Some restaurants will feature wines starting at $20 a bottle and others at $30.  What a great way to try a new restaurant and drink a delicious bottle of wine without spending a fortune.  Going out for dinner should be for everyone.  Many people reserve dining out for special occasions.  It gets expensive eating out all the time.  Restaurant Week is the time of year that people get to spoil themselves without going into debt.  To make the spoiling even more fun, offering wine at value prices allows you to enjoy a meal the way its should be enjoyed, with wine. That is, California wine.

Visit our website for a look at the different menus and make your reservations soon.

restaurant week

By A Bottle Take One Home September 28-30th

Are you wined-0ut yet? California Wine month comes to an end, and then what do you do?  You have been drinking California wine for an entire month, but you have not gotten sick of it. In fact, you now crave more.  I came up with this last promotion to help you through your withdrawals.  Come to Island Prime or C-level, Prado at Balboa Park, Vintana, Sea 180, Bo Beau Ocean Beach, 333 Pacific or Draft Republic and buy a wine to drink in the restaurant from my selected list and take a second bottle home with you.  My intention is to allow you to revisit the fabulous wines you tasted in September again and again in October and November at your own leisure.  The wine lists are subject to change based on availability.  Each restaurant will have its own unique list.


WOW!  What a month!  So much going on in September. Clear your calendars out and pencil in a few of these events.  It will be worth it.  I hope to see you drinking California Wine in September.  If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon.

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Behind the Scenes at a Prime Cru Wine Sale

Posted on January 31, 2015

Prime Cru Wine

I am going on 6 years of holding Prime Cru wine sales.  For those of you that don’t know what a wine sale is, it is the most awesome-est wine event in San Diego.  The very first Prime Cru wine sale took place in March of 2009, during the financial downturn.  One would have never known that our country was facing a financial crisis if they had walked into Island Prime that afternoon.  There were people buying cases upon cases of 1997 Napa Cabs I had stored away for the past 10 years.  To this day, the first wine sale was the most profitable where we sold $33,000 of wine in 2 hours.  That is insane!  Since the first sale, our Prime Cru members have asked for more.  Being the softy that I am, I started hosting wine sales 3-4 times a year.

Since 2009, I’ve hosted wine sales at Bo Beau in Ocean Beach and Vintana in Escondido.  The amount of time and work it goes into putting them together is mind-boggling.  We clear out the restaurant’s dining room and load it with wines from our many properties just for a 2 hour wine sale.  In the weeks ahead of time, I become a mule running cases of wine from one restaurant to another. I create spreadsheets upon spreadsheets all the time making sure pricing and inventories are correct.  Each wine is inventoried, cataloged for the sale and priced below regular retail pricing.  We take a loss on some wines just to clear out our excess inventory. The result is screaming deals for our members.

Today, I wanted you to see what goes on at one of our Prime Cru wine sales.  It is a great way to spend the afternoon.  People will stop in, taste a few wines, do some shopping and eat next door at C-Level.  The smart ones will take one of their purchases to the table and open it with complimentary corkage.  It makes for a great day on the bay.  We also hold the wines sales at Vintana Wine+Dine in Escondido.  Vintana also has an outside patio where you can enjoy lunch and your newly purchased wine while sitting in the sun.

It is easy to become a member. Simply click on the Prime Cru link and fill out the form.  You will learn about my upcoming wine sales and other wine events that I host around town.  The best part of Prime Cru is that there is no charge and no commitment. Enjoy the video and I will see you at the next wine sale.

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Nick Goldschmidt, the Nomadic Winemaker

Posted on August 6, 2014

wine regions

Wine can be made almost anywhere in the world along the 30th and 50th parallel.  (Well, that is except for in the oceans.  I have to say that, because I know that someone will comment if I do not clarify.  It’s in the nature of wine geeks to know more and let others know how much they know.)  The history of winemaking began some 8-10,000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains near Mesopotamia.  Since then, cultivation of grapes for wine production spread throughout the fertile crescent into North Africa, Phoenicia, Greece and into Europe.  At first, the Romans were not wine people.  They eventually learned from Etruscans, Carthaginians and Greeks how to make wine.  Once they did, they spread wine into the what we know as today as the greatest wine growing regions in the world, Rhone, Mosel, Burgundy, etc…  The middle ages stifled the growth of art, culture and technology and everything was in control of the Christian church.  When the renaissance and industrial revolution came about, wine left the shores of Eurasia and ended into South Africa, Australia and the Americas.  This spread of viticulture has left the sommelier and wine lovers in need of experiencing it all.  There are also winemakers that go abroad and learn to make wine from other winemakers.  They learn from others different farming techniques and solutions to the many hurdles in wine making.

I was able to  travel around the world in my twenties.  It was the best thing I could have done.  I learned more from traveling than I had in college.  Being exposed to other cultures allowed me to continue to seek something new and different.  Naturally, when I immersed myself in wine, I took that same approach and today I seek wines that are not our everyday wines.  I began to wonder how many winemakers have worked in different parts of the world?  I found out that most tend to get experience elsewhere and then return to their homes or place of inspiration and make wines.  However, not many actually work several harvests a year.  They might have gotten some experience elsewhere, but they do not continue making wines there. This is why this next seminar with Nick Goldschmidt is so special.

Nick Goldschmidt is a Kiwi winemaker who has made wine for a very long time.  His career began in 1982 in research and eventually led him through New Zealand and California as a winemaker.  I remember first hearing about him when I was buying wine in San Francisco for a small restaurant.  I loved his story.  Back then he was making wines in New Zealand, Australia and California.  He wanted  to make wines using the best grape variety that grew in that region.  For example, under the Forefathers Label he made Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, Shiraz in Australia and Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley.  This means that for Nick, wine making was and still is a full-time job.  Just as one harvest ends, he is off to the next region to do another harvest.  The true nomadic winemaker.

Today, Nick Goldschmidt has stopped producing wines from Australia, but is now producing wines in Argentina and Chile. Although the Chilean wines are not in the market place yet, the Argentinian Malbec is tasting beautifully.  Let’s not forget about the rest of the world.  Although he is not making wines in other regions, he does consulting in Spain and Canada.  A winemaker is only as good as his connections.  I say that, because the secret to making great wines is getting great fruit. Nick’s long history and close relationships in California and other parts of the world have allowed him to source fruit from some of the best vineyard sites.  Nick is down to earth.  Although he can justifiably charge a high price for his wines in the daughters series, “Chelsea, Katherine & Hilary”, he chooses not to.  The fruit comes from some of the best vineyards in Oakville, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley.  It is in his nature to make wines that are accessible to all.

On August 14th, at Vintana in Escondido, Nick Goldschmidt will hold a panel discussion and tasting where I will ask him questions about his wines, wine making techniques and the differences between the many regions he works.  The event will be in the Lexus Technology room from 6- 8pm.  All the wines tasted will be available for sale.  Light hors d’oeuvre will also be served.

To buy tickets follow this link:

Buy Tickets


Nick Goldschmidt Event

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