By Rick Riozza

If there is any place that we desert dwellers love to jaunt out to, it’s beautiful San Diego. Within two or three hours, we can be luxuriating at the San Diego/Coronado Bay and San Diego Marina.

And while we’re taking in the generous but temperate sunrays and the refreshing sea breezes—no doubt, we are enjoying an enlivening beverage of our choice. Most vino enthusiasts that I know simply love the suds. And the San Diego area clearly rivals Portland Oregon as a Mecca for breweries and pubs. But even though there are a good scattering of wineries down south, wine bars and wine venues have not been the first thing that comes to mind for the traveler, visitor and local.

It’s a brave new wine world out there and I am so pleased to bestow some of the best wine news about: The MARRIOTT MARQUIS—SAN DIEGO MARINA, in what seems as in one-fell-swoop, has become the most impressive “wine lover’s destination” in the south county, establishing itself with a ton of wine and the largest professional wine staff to seize the moment, or stay-cation, or simply any convenient stop-over, so that you may experience the many fun and inter-active wine events and tastings.

This isn’t hype; it’s my recent experience there that I’m reporting on. You see—it was just a couple of months ago that I heard the already beautiful Marriott Marquis with its existing two high-rise towers right on the San Diego Marina was doing a 100+ million dollar makeover on their resort property.

“Resort property” you ask? Is this not a big city hotel? Yeah—but its location on the waterfront, the marina, the close proximity to Seacoast Village, Downtown, and Petco Park Stadium, believe me—it’s a resort, especially when I look down from my room and see the expansive pool and bar area ensconced in lush greenery similar to a resort in the Caribbean or around Hawaii. Check it all out at:

Michael Miller is the General Manager of the hotel’s acclaimed culinary Marina Kitchen Restaurant, Lounge & Bar. He’s got that continuous cheerful personality with an ever-present smile. And why not—in charge of this stellar venue, he surrounds himself with a bevy of beverage pros who are certified in either beer, wine and/or spirits. You name it, they’re pouring it.

Michael agrees he’s in a great place, both professionally and locale-wise. “I work in what I call an ‘urban oasis’.” How true is that: Big city lights amidst a lounging laid-back coastal scenic atmosphere where one can enjoy at the epicenter of every type of tasty entrée, dish, snack, salad and drink.

Did I already mention all of the wine around this town that is now gravitating at and around the Marina Kitchen Wine Cellar & Bar? The overall vino program here is way too vast for me to summarize adequately. I’ll surely mention some of the fun stuff going on; but, I think we’d rather hear from one of the many certified wine sommeliers here at the resort describe to us how the show really works.

It’ll be a perfect fit for my up-coming columns on “Wine Wise Gals”. We’ve done enough on “Wine Wise Guys” through the years; it’s time we let the wine women speak. So let’s look forward to hearing from Megan, the Marquis Somm, in next month’s column, where we can continue to be informed on this dynamic wine venue.

A continued Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner, the Marina Kitchen Wine program includes events and tastings that include: a Tasting Bar Session (inside and outside of the Wine Cellar), Premium Wine Flight Tastings, “Flights & Bites”, “Wine Wednesdays”, Guest Winemaker Dinners, “Wine Hangouts”, Wines of the Month, and “Wines on Tap”—a new take on Barrel Sampling.

I know we’ll get more of the skinny on all of these tasting extravaganzas from Sommelier Megan. But a few things to mention: The hotel, has two towers, each with 25 floors, featuring 1,360 guest rooms, a fitness center, The Hideaway Spa, two outdoor free-form pools, a whirlpool, 446-slip marina besides the lively eateries that make up the total Marina Kitchen Restaurant & Lounge experience.

There is no time like the present to get out and enjoy a wine-themed destination. Whether it’s a once in a lifetime experience or something to look forward to periodically—treat yourself! And whether your stay is long or short, or, even if you’re just passing through the area, do yourself a favor and quaff a glass or two and simply enjoy the view.

For instance, how often have you desired to taste and consider some of the historically famous world class wines out there but have never had the opportunity? With the “Premium Wine Flight Tastings”, mentioned above, we wine enthusiasts have the delight to try a top French, Californian, or Italian wine without having to spend a week’s pay.

Above, I mentioned General Manager Michael Miller for a reason. When I spoke with him last week, I expressed a concern for those vino lovers who come over to the very large and spacious Marriott resort, only to get lost with all the goings-on and fanfare. One thing wine travelers enjoy is a personal touch. Michael assured me that he and his beverage staff are especially attuned to the needs of their guests and absolutely look forward to the opportunity to escort and introduce them to the various tastings.

Cheers to all that!! Stay tuned!

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina 333 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, California 92101 USA (619) 234-1500