Vista — An industrial park in Vista is an unlikely place to find a winery, but then again, the winery owners are unlikely too.
Meet Brian and Alan Haghighi, 26-year-old identical twins from Escondido, the founding partners of California Fruit Wine. The two are doing something different with wine. They are making it from fruit like kiwi, plums, peaches and strawberries, but there is one thing they want to make very clear.
These are not sweet, dessert wines. Each wine has its own distinct flavor and have names like Strawberry Stiletto, Santa Rosa Plum and Mango De Mayo, but they are not sweet.
“It’s just different,” said Will Burtner, a certified sommelier who does a segment on wine on Wednesday mornings on FOX. “I think they are on an interesting path. They are trail blazers. The problem of being a trail blazer is that you catch most of the arrows, but it is really interesting.”
He said this type of wine is uncharted as far as sommeliers go.
“It’s a whole different concept,” he said.
Burtner said he has developed a fondness for their Kiwi wine.
“I kind of feel like I’m cheating on grapes,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to stretch my palate and nose once in a while. It moves the boundaries out.”
The brothers began making the fruit wine in July 2009 with a couple who were good friends.
That venture didn’t last long. No hard feelings, they just had different ideas about the winery.
“For them it was a glorified hobby. To us it was livelihood,” Brian said. “There was a divide there.”
The couple has since moved to Northern California and Brian and Alan took the idea and ran with it, turning out this unusual wine.
They have promoted their product many ways, including on social media and at street fairs and farmers markets.
“We sold quite a bit of wine, but one of the unfortunate things, we were not allowed to give tastings,” Brian said. “People were buying on impulse.”
Each person who visited their booth was invited to the Vista tasting room so they could sample the wine.
Evelyn Heine of Oceanside was shopping at the Vista Farmer’s Market when she stopped by the California Fruit Wine booth and after checked out the micro-winery.
Heine said she enjoyed the winery/tasting room and has returned several times.
“It’s the atmosphere that I really enjoy,” said Allison Simpson of Vista. “It is very causal and laid back. You can have a conversation and the owners are very personable and very attentive. Obviously, we enjoy the wine.”
The space is part warehouse/winery and part comfortable wine bar with couches, a pool table, long tables and a comfy bar where people gather. It’s becoming a place where people are “checking into,” on social media.
Several times a week, they host events like WineDownWednesday, SangriaSunday and FoodieFriday which features a different food truck or vendor each week.
It has not always been easy. There have been bumps.
Their first challenge was learning how to make wine, since neither had consumed much wine of any kind.
They turned to the Internet.
“You have access to the universally developed research on winemaking,” Brian said. “We also reached out to other winemakers in the area, but the most important teacher for anything you do is trial and error and just doing it.”
“Today we have pretty much as good as handle as anyone could on winemaking and our knowledge set,” he said.
They would love to expand, but it takes money to make money, so they are always looking for new investors.
“Before our problem was an unknown market. Now there is a market, but producing enough to meet the demand is a problem,” Alan said.
Albertsons in on Mission Avenue in Oceanside is selling their wine.
“It’s a pilot store. They say if it moves well at this store, they will start looking at other locations,” Brian said. Major Market in Escondido carries it as well as Wine and Spirits in Vista. It is available at the Moonlight Theatre in Vista and the Navy Exchange on 32nd street in San Diego.
California Fruit Wine is at 1040 La Mirada Court in Vista.
Patty McCormac is a freelance writer from Oceanside.