Working for Good, Clean, Fair Food for All - Slow Food Urban San Diego Convivium of Slow Food International


Vinavanti Urban Winery Brings Locally Sourced, Craft Wine to San Diego

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

In a San Diego market overflowing with craft breweries, craft wine could be considered the black sheep (or bottle) of the bunch. Until you try it, that is. Then you just might become a dedicated convert like we are at Slow Food Urban San Diego.

What is craft wine anyway?

According to Eric Van Drunen, winemaker and owner of Vinavanti Urban Winery, “Craft wine is the punk music of the wine world.”

Most makers today have their wines down to a science, adding yeast, sulfites and other flavors to fit a specific “classical” or “pop” flavor profile. Van Drunen, however, takes a truly minimalist approach to winemaking where he adds nothing more than San Diego County grown grapes (they have a great map in the tasting room that shows all the local farms they source from!) and lets nature do its thing. Unique and surprising wines with subtle flavors representative of the grapes and farms where they are grown are the result.

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

Van Drunen’s Vinavanti label and tasting room evolved out of many hours drinking wine and eating good food with friends. He started buying and blending wines in 2007 to develop flavors that paired well with food and that he could sell at an accessible price. In 2010 he made his own wine for the first time using conventional methods. It turned out so-so. Bored of the limited flavor profiles of traditional wines, in 2011 he made his first natural wine and hasn’t looked back. From there, he continued to refine his process, focusing on doing as little as possible (or nothing at all) beyond sourcing local, organically grown grapes and letting nature and wild yeast do the work in the fermentation process. He bottles his wines unfiltered, highlighting the terroir through distinct colors, textures, and tastes.

Now, five years later, Vinavanti has more than 11 wines on their always evolving tasting menu, ranging from a sparkling Ladona Muscat grown in Pauma Valley that tastes something like a cross between a sour beer and kombucha to their most popular GSM, a rich and smoky blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grown in Temecula Valley.

So what can you expect when stopping by the only certified organic winery in San Diego?

“We aim to create an environment where you can enjoy a unique tasting experience in an inviting space,” say Van Drunen.

Van Drunen himself is often pouring glasses at the bar and loves to chat about natural winemaking, his background in physics and many topics in between. Community tables make for great social gathering spaces, and romantic two-tops are perfect for quieter date nights. 

Vinavanti is located at 1477 University Ave in Hillcrest, and as Slow Food Urban San Diego’s newest Member Benefits Partner, they offer a 10% discount on wines to card-carrying Slow Food members. Be sure to check them out for weekly specials and events including cellar tours (they ferment most of their wines right in the urban winery) and movie nights, and ask them about their membership program and wines on tap.

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

Bringing the Table to the Farm – Deckman’s en el Mogor

by Sarah M. Shoffler, SFUSD Board Member

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Drew Deckman at work.

In the heart of the Valle de Guadalupe wine country, up a hillside you’ll find the sensate joy of Deckman’s en el Mogor. Set on Mogor Ranch, this restaurant aims to “bring the table to the farm.” It delivers a Slow Food feast.

The extensive Mogor Ranch and winery grows or produces all the wine, vegetables, herbs, lamb and eggs that the talented Drew Deckman uses in his outdoor-served cuisine. Not only is the food fresh, you get to experience the terroir in which it was grown while you eat it. Sipping Mogor’s wine in the place its grapes were grown and the wine vinted, nibbling produce grown not feet away from where you sit opens the senses to a place. Drew sources all his seafood and other ingredients, from salt to cheese to beef, as locally and as responsibly as possible. He knows his food producers.

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Deckman, son, and oysters. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

This all means that the menu is seasonal, ever changing and made to order. I’m no food writer, but I can tell you his food is delicious, cooked with care and creativity. Deckman is also passionate about oysters. So if you love these bivalves, you’ll find a friend at Deckman’s.

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Deliciousness at Deckman’s en el Mogor.

Deckman’s is an outdoor restaurant, sometimes equipped with haybale walls and a makeshift roof, but outdoors nonetheless. It overlooks the Valle. You see wineries for miles from your table. You smell the warmth from the Ranch rising as the sun sets. Deckman, who refers to himself as an ingredient facilitator not a chef despite his Michelin star, cooks on an outdoor grill. He chats with guests as they come and go. It’s altogether convivial. The Ranch dog, Pyrenea, might make a pass through the restaurant for a few scritches if she’s off duty from guarding the flock. All to say, it’s a magical experience rooted in the place.

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Refined rustic dining at Deckman’s en al Mogor.

Slow Food Urban San Diego is pleased to welcome Deckman’s en el Mogor as one of our newest Member Benefit Partners. SFUSD members get 10% off their entire Deckman’s en el Mogor bill. We encourage you to make time to visit the winery, as well.

Magic night at Mogor Ranch. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

Magic night at Mogor Ranch. Photo credit: S. Shoffler

Deckman’s en el Mogor
Km. 85.5 Highway 3 Tecate-Ensenada
San Antonio De Las Minas, Baja California, Mexico
Contact them at mogor@deckmans.com / telephone: 646-188-3960

Board Members Sought

Are you organized, passionate and willing to help with the nitty gritty of accomplishing Good, Clean & Fair? Then we want you! Seeking detail-oriented energetic folks to round out our board. All positions are voluntary. Send a resume or bio and letter of interest to volunteer@slowfoodurbansandiego.org with subject header “Board Application.”

Members of the Board serve up to two two-year terms in any one position. To be eligible, you must have or obtain a Slow Food membership. Open positions described below.

The Great American Slow Food Revolution

Good Food Community Fair Chair 
Slow Food Urban San Diego is seeking an organized event planner that is passionate about building community around good, clean & fair food for all. The Chair will run committee meetings and organize/manage logistics, fundraising opportunities and special programming for the 4th annual Good Food Community Fair. The Good Food Community fair is a gathering of good, clean & fair organizations and a celebration of local food and craft drinks with cooking demos, art, discussion panels and more. For more information visit: http://goodfoodfair.com/. Also seeking Co-Chair to train up into the position.