If you live on the San Francisco Peninsula or in the South Bay and you’re hunkering to taste some wines and not travel too far, then schedule a stop at Domenico Winery in San Carlos. The owner and winemaker is Dominick Chirichillo. This urban winery is located in the industrial area of San Carlos and is a winery that wears many hats. Not only can you taste and buy wine, but you can also make your own wine at Domenico or host a heck of party or wedding reception in the winery’s warehouse. Dominick also puts on a novel activity, a blending party where participants form groups can blend their own wines after which Dominick and his coworkers judge the wines. All this in little sleepy San Carlos!
The only thing missing at this urban winery is the experience of the wine country. There are no beautiful vineyards or mountains to view. Why the urban winery? It is much easier on the finances to run a winery in a warehouse facility like this. Dominick owns vineyards in Amador County but most of his grapes are sourced from vineyards throughout the California wine country, including the Napa Valley and Sonoma County. When the grapes are harvested they are quickly sent to Domenico in cold storage. When the grapes arrive the winemaking team does all the crushing, fermenting, barrel aging and bottling at the San Carlos warehouse.
Some twenty labels of Domenico wine are produced all in small lots. The emphasis is on Italian varietals like Nebbiolo, Primitivo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. But you will also find the standard wines like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are nicely made and, in our tasting, the Primitivo and Barbera were superb.
Before Dominick arrived in California he resided in New Jersey and in the 1980’s he created the Bacchus Club, perhaps the first of its kind where individuals or groups were able to make their own wine in a winemaking facility. By the time he came to California with his idea of the Bacchus Club, the Crushpad had just opened in San Francisco. Timing is everything! Nonetheless, the Bacchus Club is in full operation mode at Domenico. There are about 150 members of the club who, as individuals or teams, are making their own wine with their own label. A wine friend of mine wanted to try his hand at winemaking, so he joined an existing group from Redwood Shores that is making one barrel of wine. His share will be only one case of wine but it is the experience that he is after.
Tasting room hours at the winery are noon to 5 pm daily. To get there, exit at San Carlos off Highway 101 and turn left on Industrial Road and travel about one mile to 1697 Industrial Road. (650) 593-2335.