Marina, CA : As Urban As We Wanna Be (Video)


Hi wine friends! Most of you know that Gabe and I reside in the tiny post-military town of Marina, CA. Located on The Monterey Peninsula, Marina is about 8 miles north of Monterey, CA proper. In a Marina-Monterey comparison, the latter comes off looking like the big city. Monterey is a scenic and quaint tourist community with some other economic anchors such as The Naval Postgraduate School, golf stuff and a sizable wine scene. Marina, well, it has one really good sandwich shop. With limited hours. Otherwise, we pretty much rely on Monterey for most of our needs. This is why I was mucho enthusiastic to attend the monthly event, Urban Wine Row, in our own little community of Marina, CA. Supporting local business never tasted so good.

The winemakers from L to R: Paul Gokey of Sinecure, Michael Simons of Comanche Cellars and Miguel Lepe of Lepe Cellars.

The winemakers from L to R: Paul Gokey of Sinecure, Michael Simons of Comanche Cellars and Miguel Lepe of Lepe Cellars.

Urban? Marina is not.

However Urban Wine Row does have a warehouse feel, located in an industrial park, where a handful of local winemakers actually process their wine. The wineries that participated when we went are: Sinecure, Comanche Cellars and Lepe Cellars. None of which currently have an existing tasting room, though Comanche has one in development so stay tuned! How else might one taste these wines? Other than taking a gamble when you see them for purchase at local establishments? I for one, am such a fan of wine-tasting because purchasing bottles is a commitment you ought to be ready for. Like the time I ordered a case of orange wine online, without tasting it, because it was a “great deal”. Let’s just say 1 bottle would have sufficed. I want to know that I will enjoy the wine prior to purchase. Tastings are like an insurance policy. And as we all are too well aware, “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” To be fair, good and bad is arguable, a matter of taste. I would hinge it on, life is too short to not be drinking the wine you want to drink.

So how was it?!


We enjoyed everything, and took home some of our faves.



Small production, hand-crafted wines made of Lodi and Monterey County fruit. They model their style on the old world, French GSM’s (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre), Spanish Tempranillos and Italian Sangioveses. All delightful wines, we plucked the 2014 Grenache Noir and the 2014 Sangiovese. Their labels artfully depict the leaves of each grape they represent. The word sinecure means: a position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit. A paradoxical take on working in the wine industry where work is non-stop and financial gains few. However the status of sharing delicious wines that please the people is a coveted one, and Sinecure achieves it well.


Comanche Cellars

Named for a childhood pet horse, Comanche produces small lots of skillfully created wines. They offer Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Zinfandel with grapes from Santa Clara County and Monterey. Also a Tempranillo from Calaveras County. We took the 2011 SLH (Santa Lucia Highlands) Pinot Noir, 2013 Merlot and the 2013 Zinfandel to go. All of the wines are complex and tasty, reflecting the terroir from whence it came. For example the SLH Pinot is earthy and spicy, light bodied and full of fruit. The Old Vine Zin from Santa Clara is ripe, bursting with sunshine and grounded in longevity. Check out the descriptions on the labels, they read like a descriptive essay. Comanche has a presence in many shops and restaurants in the region.

An image of the winemaker, Miguel Lepe, with a wine barrel on his back.

An image of the winemaker, Miguel Lepe, with a wine barrel on his back.

Lepe Cellars.

Miguel Lepe is cultivating some outliers for this area. A Rosé of Syrah, a Riesling, a Zinfandel and a Petit Verdot..? Yep. And they are all knock-outs. His wines have a lightness, a drinkability at any time, quality that mimics the climate in our county: never too much heat or chill. Just right. Balanced. All have their relevance. His fruit is sourced from the Monterey County AVAs: Arroyo Seco and San Antonio Valley. He is also the winemaker of Figge, known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and with an unknown future due to the sudden passing of Peter Figge last summer. Miguel has a talent for winemaking and is surely one to follow for innovation in his craft. His website can be accessed in English or Spanish. An inclusive nod to heritage. Love it.


And now I present to you, 3 Winemakers talking about screw-caps:

Marina is burgeoning. More homes are being built, more people are coming, which means more businesses, services etc. Though uncertain of just how long we will live here, I feel welcoming of the changes. We are amidst one of California’s largest wine regions and it would make sense to have a few local wine related establishments. Trust me, I have considered founding one myself, but $ aside, I am not sure that is my calling. What I know for sure is that I want to continue supporting and championing the exceptional offerings of the local community, wine and otherwise.


What do you love about your community?