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

5 Slow Things to Do in San Diego on Black Friday Instead of Shopping


By Slow Food Urban San Diego Board Member, Kathryn Rogers

In sunny San Diego, with our near-perfect year round weather that is the envy of northern dwellers across the country, one of the strongest indicators (besides those 4:30 sunsets) of the long-anticipated holiday season is a whole lot of marketing. We get e-blasts, mailers and point-of-purchase reminders galore that the best way to celebrate this holiday season is by buying as much as possible.

Long gone are the days when retail employees spent the Thanksgiving holiday at home with their loved ones. Now we can jump on those holiday deals while we’re still in the first clutches of a Thanksgiving feast food coma. We’ve traded retail therapy for good, old-fashioned family time.

This Thanksgiving, Slow Food Urban San Diego invites you to reclaim your dining table with gratitude for the bounty of food and the people who produced it, with a heritage turkey and locally sourced, seasonal side dishes. You can enjoy slow living the whole weekend and throughout the season, perhaps by opting for these five local activities in lieu of the mad crowded rush that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  1. Visit a Farmers’ Market. Whether you intend to purchase produce and homemade goods or just want a great reason to taste seasonal fruits and veggies and chat with local farmers, a day at the farmers’ market is sure to be a hit with the whole family. Many markets also have a wide selection of prepared foods (in case you’re still hungry) and some even have live music.
  2. Get Outside. The County of San Diego manages more than 120 parks and preserves throughout the region with locations ranging from the beach to the valleys, the mountains to the desert. Not to mention all our local parks and open coastline. These trails, scenic vistas, playgrounds, and lakes are perfect for hiking, cycling, strolling, or horseback riding. Being active is a great way to avoid the crowds and burn off some of those extra calories.
  3. Make Homemade Gifts. Nothing says “I love you” more than a gift crafted from the heart. Whether its beeswax candles, a hand knitted hat or your famous holiday cookies, you can “wow” your loved ones while saving time and money by making presents in batches. Stock up on your supplies and ingredients in advance so you can spend all of Black Friday cozy at home, crafting away. Any little ones in your house will surely enjoy lending helping hands as well.
  4. Enjoy Arts and Culture. This Friday, Balboa Park has scheduled more than 20 exhibitions, 15 film screenings, botanical garden tours and family activities including holiday puppet shows, many of which are free and open to the public. Hop on your local bus line or bike path to make it a completely green day while avoiding parking woes. Then enjoy the natural and historical beauty in the company of your dear ones.
  5. Share your Abundance. As you are feeling extra grateful for all the good in your life, take time to give back to your community. Local organizations offer a number of volunteer opportunities for individuals and families, including preparing and serving meals to people experiencing food insecurity. Wild Willow Farm and Shakti Rising are also hosting a Give 5 Black Friday Challenge where you can volunteer your time or make a donation in support of sustainable farm education programs.

If the buying bug is still tugging on your purse straps or wallet folds, shop local whenever possible. This puts money back in our local economy, and you’re likely to discover more unique gifts compared to online or in big box stores. Check out Edible San Diego’s Holiday Guide for tasty local gift ideas, stroll shops on Adams Avenue during Small Business Saturday (November 28) while enjoying festive libations, or head over to South Park on December 5 for the Holiday Happenings Walkabout.

To find additional small businesses in your area, check out the Urbanist Guide.

Wishing you and yours a slow start to the holiday season!

More than Honey and Sweet Sips Networking

Honey tasting.

Honey tasting.

Big thanks to everyone who came out for our Sweet Sips networking event in July at Local Habit. Mead tastings by Golden Coast Mead, honey tastings offered by Wild Willow Farms and local beekeepers from the San Diego Beekeepers Society and special honey-based dishes by Chef Jimmy. A sweet time, indeed.


Natalie from Golden Coast Mead serving up some mead.

And thanks to all who joined us for the re-screening of the More than Honey documentary. This is an amazing, intriguing, beautiful and quirky film. Please see it if you haven’t already.

For those of you interested in learning more about bees and what you can do locally, here are a few great local resources:

San Diego Beekeeping Society holds classes and meetups to encourage responsible beekeeping. Lots of expert members there. You can find a list of beekeepers on their website who perform live bee removals and other bee resources in the county.

Wild Willow Farm is a non-profit organization offering beekeeping classes (also farming classes). The instructor is very knowledgeable about bee issues locally and globally and can tell you about hosting a hive on your property.


Paul and Cathryn, our friends from Wild Willow Farm.

Girl Next Door Honey offers beekeeping classes and workshops, one-on-one consulting, a host-a-hive program and performs live bee removals.

If you need to remove bees from your property, please consider live removal by one of these folks or those listed on the Beekeeping Society website. Bees are important to our food supply and need a helping hand. Stay tuned for future bee-related events.


Enjoying honey and mead.