San Diego’s diminutive Gianni Buonomo Vintners in Ocean Beach was recently awarded a double gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Gianni Buonomo competed against the biggest names in the U.S. wine industry at the largest competition of American wines in the world.
“Because we’re such a small producer, I never sent my wines out to competitions before this one,” said winemaker Keith Rolle, who owns the 1,500 case per year winery. “A couple of wine club members urged me to enter. They even offered to pay the entry fee, so I submitted two wines to the San Fran competition. I was stunned when I learned that my 2014 Charbono won double gold and my 2013 Blaufränkisch won bronze.”
Asked why he produces these obscure varietals, Rolle explains,” Because we’re small, we don’t have to produce massive amounts of Cab or Chardonnay to fill the distribution pipeline. This allows me great license for creativity in the varietals and style of wine I bring to market.”
Charbono, once the darling of Napa Valley, is now made by only 17 wineries in the entire U.S. There are less than 70 acres planted to this rare varietal that has developed a cult-like following. Grapes for this award-winning wine were sourced from El Dorado County near Placerville.
Blaufränkisch, another varietal not readily found in the U.S., has an Austrian heritage and grows extremely well in Washington state. Rolle harvests this and six other varietals in Washington and vinifies them in his 3,000 square foot winery two blocks from the beach.
Gianni Buonomo Vintners is the only winery in the U.S., perhaps in the world, that produces both Charbono and Blaufränkisch. Their Ocean Beach winery features a tasting room, laboratory and a barrel room that also serves as an event center.