No offense, but wine isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of La Mesa. But maybe it should be. Down in the village, the wine bar Gio has been doing brisk trade for a few years, just steps away from the tasting room of the San Pasqual Winery. And, lately, some of my contemporaries (distinguished, not-as-young-as-they-used-to-be, very-good-looking professional types) have chatted up the area’s newest entry, the Vine Cottage Wine Bar and Kitchen (6062 Lake Murray Blvd.), which has been open just a couple of months. So, one recent afternoon, I decided to check it out.
I wouldn’t call Vine Cottage a wine bar in the traditional sense, though it does have a bar and does serve wine. The wine list is solid, but it isn’t as extensive as a retail outlet, and it feels more like a restaurant that prides itself on wine. That isn’t a knock on the place; it’s providing a dining experience to a community that’s clearly dying for more sophisticated options.
Cozying up to the bar, I opted for a glass of the ’06 Thomas Fogarty Pinot Noir, a Santa Cruz vintage that had a fuller body than the other Pinots listed, and perused the menu. It probably sounds snobbish to say that the wine list and the food at Vine Cottage aren’t particularly challenging. I don’t mean it like that. Both feel comfortable and accessible, and that seems to be what the locals want. As someone who lives not far from La Mesa, this doesn’t mean I’ll always head east for food and drink, but it’s nice to know that this one is right in my backyard.