The economic news for San Diego and its sister cities in the county is finally pointing up, away from the chill of the deepest recession. Recently I read that residential housing sales are up and the average price per home is up.  Now, another reason to cheer:  San Diego is first in California travel destinations according to, and it’s the 4th most popular destination in the entire U.S.A. in the first 6 months of 2012.
Hotel rates are up and restaurants and wine bistros are doing much better.  This leads me to the fact there is a booming launch of new and remodeled restaurants and resorts taking place, especially along San Diego’s coastline. La Jolla has more than its share and one of the best is high in the sky on top of Hotel La Jolla called CUSP.
It’s the former Elario’s, that boasts the most panoramic views of La Jolla and the sweeping Pacific coastline, a setting perfect for the Mediterranean menu of fresh seafood with a Morrocan-Italian- Spanish twist to it.  Executive Chef Donald Lockhart makes all pastas “in-house,” with such favorites as baked rigatoni and spinach fetuccine.  He adds shrimp, chicken or salmon for just a few dollars more. There’s also a showcase Morroccan Spiced King Salmon with tomato picchio and caramelized fennel that will sear in your memory as a flavorful masterpiece.
The wine that I want you to try is the Rubicon Estate Zinfandel Edizione Pennino 2009, a dark, solid, dense red made by Francis Ford Coppola’s Napa Valley winery. 
CUSP is a stylish, relaxed and comfortable penthouse restaurant, with healthy, tasty menu items.  Breakfast, lunch and Happy Hour are Monday through Friday, with dinner daily from 5pm. Brunch from 8 to 2pm Saturday and Sunday.  For more, check out
Red Red Wine Makes Me Feel So Fine
So goes the great song from UB 40.  I would go along with that thought but I do have one exception, a white wine that does the same, Viognier.
Here’s the latest list of fine wine tastes:
Amavi Cellars Cabernet Walla Walla, Wa. 2008.  $33.
Black cherry and plum flavor with a distinctive Washington outcome, with those long days of summer like no other wine country. Sustainably farmed.
Fiftyrow Vineyards Cabernet Rutherford, Napa Valley 2008.  $49.  Encinitas olive oil pioneer Paul Johnson’s 3rd vintage and easily his best with Napa winemaker Gary Galleron. 24 months in new French Oak barreling.  91 Parker points. www.fiftyrow. com.
Jarvis Winery Merlot Napa Valley 2009. $95.  100% estate Merlot and a much sought-after version.  Aged 22 months in new French Oak.  Maximum flavors with toasty vanilla at the finish.  Ultra-soft tannins and silky mouth-feel.  www.jarviswines. com.
Jordan Winery Cabernet Alexander Valley Sonoma Ca.  2008.  $52. An estate Cabernet with start to finish quality control matching the best of Bordeaux.  Yields were down this year, but the elegance and balance were evident.
Keenan Cabernet Spring Mt., Napa Valley. 2007. $35. Went operational in 1977 and never looked back.  150 acres of “Mountain Wine.”  Lots of earth characteristics.
Niner Winery Estates Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo, Ca. 2009. $41. A first for Niner, grapes are from the nearby Edna Valley.  Classic cherry base with a long-lingering finish.
Orfila Winery Estate Lotus Viognier San Pasqual Valley, Escondido, CA.  2010.  $29. Rhone-style white with melon, citrus, pear and apricot blend aromas.  Bright acidity.  Aged in oak and stainless steel.
Sodaro Winery Estate Blend, Napa Valley. 2008.  $68. This full-bodied wine brings you a unique taste that only a well-crafted blend can do.  81% Cabernet, 17% Petit Verdot and 2% Merlot.  Robust and concentrated, this is a wine experience as great as any blend found anywhere.  Hints of black licorice and plum. www.sodarowines. com.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at  Reach him at

Receive more stories like this in your inbox