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Carruth Cellars to Open a Multi-Use Venue in Oceanside

Carruth Cellars, the largest urban winery in San Diego County with three locations, is expanding.

Owner and winemaker Adam Carruth is planning to open a fourth tasting room. Instead of being a stand-alone location, however, it will strategically be part of a multi-use concept he will open in Oceanside next spring.

Called “The Hangar,” a reference to the nearby Oceanside Municipal Airport, the 31,000 square foot space will house the new Carruth Cellars as well as the forthcoming The Tipping Pint Brewing. The brewery is a project of former Pizza Port head brewer Adam Jester and business partner Dominic Burns. Each business will have its own tasting room but will share the outdoor area, which consists of two 8,000 square foot yards on each side of the 15,000-square-foot building.

The Hangar will also include a commercial kitchen. The hope for the commissary, said Carruth, is that food trucks will work there while rotating a food menu for guests of the brewery and the winery. This spares Carruth Cellars and The Tipping Pint from having to run independent kitchens while still meeting the demand for cuisine from customers and adding supplemental income.

Greater Return on His Investment

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As an urban winery, the business has a production facility in a neighborhood of a city instead of in the countryside.

For Carruth, the shared-space move is about pivoting in the face of COVID-19 and creating a concept that will allow the company to continue to grow despite the pandemic. He could have opened another stand-alone tasting room, but a multi-purpose business felt like more value for his money and, potentially, a greater return on his investment down the line.

Carruth Cellars’ revenue in 2019 was roughly $4 million, said Carruth, but it will dip by about 25% in 2020. In terms of production, Carruth Cellars produced 360 tons of wine last year, or 1,000 barrels, and will make 20 tons this year, equivalent to 50 barrels.

“Because of the pandemic and all the shutdowns, we feel this is the way to go,” said Carruth. “All the lofty goals we had before COVID and with cash flow being different in 2020, we are kind of going at a certain pace based on our new reality. That’s part of the reason we will build a commercial kitchen, not to support restaurants, but to support food trucks. We want food trucks to use the building, stay there once a week and feed people at the brewery and the winery in the common space. I think it’ll be really good.”

The initial drive to buy the building came about when Carruth realized he was outgrowing his production space in Solana Beach, where the company is headquartered (Carruth Cellars also has locations in Little Italy and Carlsbad). Dominic Burns was planning to open The Tipping Pint Brewing and had long wanted to partner with Carruth, so the two purchased The Hangar building together.

Blending of Businesses

As a result of the multi-tenant destination, Carruth may be the first operator in all of San Diego to take advantage of a bill that passed last October, which allows multiple license holders to produce and store alcoholic beverage products within one premise.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, for 15 years, and I can’t remember ever a brewery and a winery being under the same roof,” said Carruth. “The new ABC rule now allows for it, which it did not in the past. People want to go to a winery but want to have a beer and vice versa. Until now, that was hard unless those businesses got married at a restaurant or at a wine bar or retail space. This is kind of the first time there is an industrial space blending of those businesses.”

Unique Place

Adam Jester, partner in The Tipping Pint Brewing with Dominic Burns, said they’d been discussing teaming up for a multi-use project since early last year, when they first heard the bill was coming up for a vote. Although COVID-19 has impacted the food and beverage industry, Jester is optimistic of the potential outcome of The Hangar.

“I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel — people are social animals and they want to hang out with friends and family,” he said. “With a multi-use venue, you can bring your family, some can drink wine, some can drink beer and the food trucks will be there to provide food in the kitchen. We think this is a unique place where you can go, get a table outside or inside, get a beer or a wine (from two different venues) and sit together.”

Deliveries and Tours

Just before The Hangar opens its doors to the public next spring, Carruth, who recently purchased a 15-passenger van, said he plans to add deliveries and tours to his operation as early as the end of this year. Carruth has removed half of the seats in the vehicle to provide safe private tours per household.

He hopes to launch a supporting business called Village Provisions, which will sell and deliver pairings of wine with cheese, bread, salami and olive oil, among other food products. He is also currently working on building a restaurant portion at his Carlsbad location that will offer wood-fire pizzas, salads and small French-infusion-style plates. And, lastly, Carruth hopes to open two more Carruth Cellars locations in 2022, when things get back to some sense of normalcy.

In the meantime, his three existing locations remain open at limited capacity, he said, and take full advantage of their outdoor wine gardens.

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