Turning Tables: Finca Wine Opens in San Diego

Who’s behind it: Finca Wine is a new San Diego wine bar and shop from Dan Valerino and Joe Bower, the former general manager and sous chef, respectively, of Wine Spectator Best of Excellence winner Juniper and Ivy. The duo also operates Bottle Boon, a hospitality management company. Veteran toque Ricardo Dondisch heads Finca Wine’s culinary program.

When it opened: Feb. 8, 2024

Why you should know about it: Depending on how you look at it, Finca is either an exciting new wine bar and restaurant (with the perk of having a retail space) or it is a neighborhood wine shop that happens to offer food. Either way, it is a wine- and community-focused establishment serving tapas and a diverse range of affordable bottles. “We wanted a customer to come in and feel like ‘this is my place,'” said Valerino, who resides in the neighborhood. Finca can be a place to enjoy a full meal, have a quick bite with a glass of wine, or grab a bottle for home (at a minimal markup). The Finca Wine team is also developing a wine club with perks.

What’s on the wine list: Finca opened with 110 labels, but Valerino aims to grow the selection to about 180. The list exclusively features wines from Spain and California, with attention given to wineries practicing sustainable techniques, and almost all bottles are priced less than $100. “I think approachability on price point is absolutely relevant [in this era],” said Valerino. The restaurant serves 14 wines by the glass or half-glass, as well as Sherries and vermouths, including a vermouth made in-house.

[article-img-container][src=2024-03/turning-tables-finca-interior-032124_1600.jpg] [credit= (James Tran)] [alt= The dining room of Finca, with blue tiles and orange banquettes][end: article-img-container]

Selections like Vega Clara Ribera del Duero Dacán and Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Penedès Mas La Plana allow diners to explore leading Spanish estates, along with great values like Avancia Godello Valdeorras Old Vines ($51 in the restaurant or $36 retail).

Many of the list’s California wines show Spanish influences, as with Ridge’s Grenache Blanc or the Grenaches from Santa Barbara wineries Clementine Carter and A Tribute To Grace. Guests can also expect Golden State Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

If a customer wants to try a wine not on the by-the-glass list, Valerino said the team will open almost any bottle for the purchase of a glass; other guests can then purchase a pour from these open bottles, which are displayed behind the bar. Valerino also offers special discounts: For instance, if restaurant guests buy more than one bottle, whether to enjoy at the table or take home, they only pay the retail price for all the bottles, not the typical restaurant markup.

Culinary Approach: As with its wine program, Finca Wine offers value on its menu. “In this day and age, it seems like every restaurant is at an $80-per-head check average,” commented Valerino. Beyond approachability, Valerino also wanted the food and beverage selections to marry well. Tapas were a natural fit; Valerino pointed to favorites like grilled sunchokes with gochujang sauce and Parmesan, an extra-large duck confit croquette with cherry mustard dipping sauce, and fried chicken with caviar in a crème fraîche dressing, which guests can order with a glass of Cava for a seamless pairing.

[article-img-container][src=2024-03/turning-tables-finca-vermouth-032124_1600.jpg] [credit= (James Tran)] [alt= Servers pouring sweet and dry vermouth in an eclectic collection of cups][end: article-img-container]

The neighborhood: Finca Wine is located in North Park, an area northeast of downtown San Diego and bordering Balboa Park. According to Valerino, the neighborhood has had its ups and downs in recent years but is currently…

Source : https://www.winespectator.com/articles/restaurant-news-finca-wine-san-diego