A small winery in Ocean Beach made a big splash at a recent national wine competition, earning two awards for wines made right in San Diego.
The wines were well-received by the judges. The Charbono won a double gold medal, while the Blaufränkisch earned a bronze. With thousands of entries each year, the competition is billed as the “largest competition of American wines in the world.”
Gianni Buonomo Vintners owner and winemaker Keith Rolle, a longtime resident of Ocean Beach, told NBC 7 Friday this is the first award for his winery on a national scale.
Rolle said these types of wine competitions typically require wineries to send a couple of cases of wine for judging purposes. But, for a small winery like his – which produces 1,500 cases of wine each year – that’s a whole lot of stock.
This time, he went for it, and it paid off. Rolle was thrilled to bring home two medals for the unique varietals.
The winemaker said the grapes for his wines aren’t grown at the beach but rather brought to Ocean Beach from top vineyards in Washington State and El Dorado County in California. The grapes are barrel aged, blended, bottled and served in his San Diego tasting room.
Grapes for the 2014 Charbono were sourced from El Dorado County near Placerville, California. Rolle described the award-winning wine as deep, rich, dark and rustic, with notes of black cherry, toasted oak, black pepper and lavender. It pairs well with thick stews, short rib, lasagna and gorgonzola.
The 2013 Blaufränkisch – of Austrian heritage with grapes harvested in Washington’s cool climate – is the lightest wine produced at the winery. Rolle said that medal winner boasts notes of cherry, raspberry and rhubarb, as well as white pepper and rose. It pairs well with roasted duck, crab cakes, and sweet and salty bites like prosciutto-wrapped dates or bacon-wrapped pineapple.
Rolle said the award-winning wines are both being poured at the OB tasting room. The 2014 Charbono sells for $45 per bottle or $11 per glass, while the 2013 Blaufränkisch costs $29 per bottle or $9 per glass. They can also be purchased by the bottle online.
Gianni Buonomo Vintners opened in the fall of 2015. Today, the small business pours premium wine in laid-back OB – which means patrons can toast, sip and savor all while wearing board shorts and flip-flops.
The tasting room is open Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s open by appointment only on Monday and Tuesday. The wines are also sold online.
Rolle said Gianni Buonomo also hosts dining events, a wine club, tours and barrel tastings. Over the past two years, Rolle said his little tasting room has very much been embraced by the OB community.
Rolle is originally from Duluth, Minnesota, but traded the freezing weather to move to San Diego and then Baja California. He learned to make wine through a program in Walla Walla, Washington. After four years honing his winemaking skills in the Pacific Northwest, he moved back to San Diego – bringing those wine grapes from Washington with him.