Aug 14, 2013 by Manny Lopez
When your pedigree boasts a history as one of the oldest winemaking families in California, the decision to become a vintner isn’t always as easy as it may seem. For native San Diegan Tim Bacino, owner of Rancho Santa Fe-based Brookside Winery, the endeavor has meant working tirelessly to fill a huge pair of shoes whose corporate roots date back to 1832.
Bacino, a self-described serial entrepreneur and the sixth generation of the Vaché family, known as pioneers in the California wine industry, has plunged into the ultracompetitive world of wine production and turned his passion for the aromatic beverage made from fermented grapes into a quest to continue a family tradition.
“I always knew I was going to make wine,” said Bacino, who one morning in 2008 woke up and decided it was time to jump into the business. “It was like my ancestors were calling me and a switch was turned on. I couldn’t help myself.”
But rather than going the traditional route, which involves purchasing vineyards and processing facilities as well as dealing with the unpredictability of Mother Nature, Bacino took advantage of a new business model in winemaking called the “virtual winery.”
Brookside Winery’s signature label, called Gen 7, is produced to specification by several boutique wineries throughout California that Bacino contracts with. During the harvest, he purchases grapes from local vineyards and then has them pressed, fermented, bottled and eventually shipped to warehouses in Rancho Santa Fe and Temecula, where they age until ready to sell.
Bacino said that using the approach gives his small wine company, which ships about 1,200 cases per year under different labels, the flexibility to make the best wine in California’s best regions.
“They are experienced wines made by the oldest winemaking family in California and every bottle has a little bit of history in it,” Bacino said. “Lots of care and attention is put into bringing the best product to market using our background and experience.”
The original Brookside Winery was bought by food and consumer products conglomerate Beatrice Cos. in 1972. The winery was eventually sold in 1986 to a real estate development firm from San Francisco to make way for expansion of the Ontario International Airport.
During its heyday, Brookside was the largest winery in Southern California with annual production of more than 3 million gallons of wine. The company had 150 labels, which included brandies, dessert, sparkling and distilled wines and spirits, along with 36 retail stores and tasting rooms, including Escondido and Bonita.
The new Brookside Winery’s brands can be found in restaurants throughout San Diego, Orange County and the desert areas. Recently, the company delivered its first shipment of bottles to the Whole Foods Market in Encinitas.
“I love their story and as a wine buyer, the juice was good,” said Michael Langdon, wine and spirits buyer for Whole Foods in Encinitas, who added that he hopes to do some private-label wines using Gen 7. “People may not recognize the name, but I think our customers are going to be very surprised at the quality of these local wines.”
Sommelier Aaron Thun of The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, where Gen 7’s California sparkling wine is served to guests as they check in, at the spa and during special functions, described the wine’s taste profile as having a bright green apple aroma, with notes of soft pear and white peach on the palate and nice fine bubbles for a refreshing and crisp finish.
Gen 7’s California sparkling wine is also used in The Inn’s signature cocktail, called the Sparkling Santa Fe, which includes Hangar One vodka, mixed with simple lavender-infused syrup, topped with Gen 7 sparkling wine and then garnished with a lavender sprig.
“We wanted to support the local winemakers,” Thun said. “Gen 7 was the only local company that really stood out.”
Gen 7 wines can be ordered online through the company’s website, which includes a wine club with several levels of membership. The company is looking to open a wine-tasting room somewhere in the North County coastal area in the very near future.
More information on the Brookside Winery can be found at www.gen7wines.com or by calling Tim Bacino at 619-540-1986.
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