Lakeside’s winery approaches first year anniversary

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Lakeside has a winery.

The news may come as a surprise to some, but in the year since Trevi Hills Winery opened its tasting room, a steady core of devout followers has developed and sommelier Michael Larrañaga said this promises to be just the beginning.

“The community has been waiting for six years for this to open,” he said. “When I opened, I did not publicize, I just opened the door, and slowly one or two heads would pop in and they went back and told everyone and next thing I knew, I was flooded with all the neighbors.”

Lakeside has a winery.

The news may come as a surprise to some, but in the year since Trevi Hills Winery opened its tasting room, a steady core of devout followers has developed and sommelier Michael Larrañaga said this promises to be just the beginning.

“The community has been waiting for six years for this to open,” he said. “When I opened, I did not publicize, I just opened the door, and slowly one or two heads would pop in and they went back and told everyone and next thing I knew, I was flooded with all the neighbors.”

Larrañaga said when he joined the project, started by the Pacifica Companies, his work was cut out for him.

“Basically my job was to get this up and going, start to finish,” he said.

This includes planting, harvesting and overseeing the private vineyards in the Trevi Hills homes.

Yes, the homes have their own vineyards.

Trevi Hills has some 800 acres across the street from the tasting room, said Larrañaga, and some of that land is being developed for housing. When someone builds a house, the winery approaches the owners about putting in a vineyard.

“We’ll manage it or show them how to manage it, but once they harvest it, we bring it back here, mix it with ours and then make a private label for them,” said Larrañaga. “It’s a blast. It brings all the neighbors together. We just planted eight different vineyards in homes over there. Now, when we go to harvest our vineyard, all the neighbors come to help. And you know there’s dedication when they do it at five o’clock in the morning.”

Trevi Hills has been a long time in the making – the first planting was seven years ago. But already it is becoming a staple for the local residents. The First Friday Club meets monthly, Larrañaga said. Neighbors bring potluck food with their kids in tow. They play bocce ball and watch the sunset.

Larrañaga said watching Trevi Hills become a part of the community is beyond what he imagined.

“I had no idea what to expect, we had no expectations,” he said. “We are the only winery in Lakeside, we did not advertise, we kind of opened just to see what would happen and now the word has spread. San Diego has started to find us, they’ve seen our wine, our homes, our views.”

And the views are something, as is the land the grapes are grown in, he said.

“On a good day I can see Mexico, La Jolla and the Coronado Islands all at the same time,” said Larrañaga. “The growing area is spectacular. We have a beautiful ocean breeze coming up the valley at all times, we have granite we lay on. Some people curse the granite, we love it because it gives us that minerality. It’s just a perfect area.”

Larrañaga plans to plant five more grapes this year: Merlot, grenache, mourvèdre, malbec, petite sirah.

“We’ll be able to harvest in the third year,” he said. “With that, we’ll be able to do not only single varietals, but we’ll be able to blend.”

But the winery owes perhaps as much of its magic to Larrañaga himself as it does to its grapes, which are enchanting in their own right.

Stan Cheslock said he and his wife enjoy company of the charming sommelier.

“We’ve had a good time tasting the flights and talking with Mike,” he said. “This is what makes coming here so much fun, you meet people and have fun conversation.”

Both Cheslock and his wife are East County residents. Cheslock said they are happy to find a winery so close to home.

“We both enjoy going to wineries,” he said. “We love Napa, we love Sonoma, we love Temecula, so this is great because we can drive here in just a few minutes.”

And they are not the only ones.

Susan Rance and Jon Herzfeld said they just started coming last week and are already in love with Trevi Hills.

“We’ve never participated in a wine club before but we love the wine,” said Rance. “We love the sommelier, Michael. He was great talking about the wine and how it pairs with food. He brings this place to life.”

Rance and Herzfeld also travel for their wines, but said that Trevi Hills stacks up well with the rest of the state.

“We went up to Paso Robles and purchased a bottle of wine from every winery up there, so we appreciate California wines,” said Rance.

The winery is a hidden gem, said Herzfeld.

“As good as the wine is, you’d expect more people to be here,” he said. “It’s San Diego’s best kept secret right now. The wines are delicious.”

Rance agreed.

“It’s fantastic. We’ll be back.”

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