Wines and Vines: Pamo Valley and Vina Ramona will open a combined tasting room

A unique commercial arrangement in Ramona combines two wineries in one space on Main Street.

Pamo Valley Winery and Vina Ramona plan to start selling wines together at 636 Main St. starting Sept. 1.

“Call it a first for Ramona,” said Benjamin Payne, owner of Vina Ramona Wines, adding that they can offer a dozen types of wine together as long as the deal works. “It will be a collective wine group with a few wineries under one roof.”

The idea for a combined wine tasting room was born when Pamo Valley Winery’s lease was not renewed after 11 years at 603 Main Street. Owner Jennifer Lane said she was notified of the non-renewal without explanation on May 23 and closed on July 31.

“It took a month just to digest the news, and then I panicked about where I was going to go,” Lane said.

She turned to Payne, who had consulted with her before opening her Vina Ramona tasting room at 636 Main Street in 2019. The two winemakers discussed the situation and Payne decided this would be an opportunity to him to invite Pamo Valley Winery to his space as he decided to open a tasting room at his vineyard, Lane said.

“Jennifer wanted the space, but the condition allowed me to sell my wine there,” Payne said. “The wine license allows both of us to sell our wines under the same address, much like a cooperative or a collective.”

Vina Ramona Wines owner Benjamin Payne shares his Main Street wine tasting room with Pamo Valley Winery.

(Courtesy of Benjamin Payne)

Payne, a native of Paso Robles, started his 11-acre vineyard at 657 E. Old Julian Highway in 2016. When Lane needed a new venue, Payne said he had the motivation to open a tasting deck in its vineyard, which already has two Airbnbs and around 200 Valencian orange trees.

The new partners plan to run their joint tasting room for at least three to six months as Payne transfers his winery business to his vineyard.

Lane said she was outgrowing her old space anyway and was looking forward to additional seating with 300 more square feet. Additionally, she said she will have access to a large back patio and a small front patio where she can use outdoor seating.

Lane said she hopes Vina Ramona’s “chic” design will attract more tourists, some of whom will visit the nearby Barn Restaurant, Ramona Café, Reds Whites & Brews or stay at the Ramona Valley Inn. She plans to explore options to expand entertainment, hold more gatherings, and introduce food trucks and catered events.

Vina Ramona Wines plans to open a tasting room patio at its vineyard at 657 E. Old Julian Highway.

Vina Ramona Wines plans to open a tasting room patio at its vineyard at 657 E. Old Julian Highway.

(Courtesy of Benjamin Payne)

Payne and Lane also see opportunities to work with Holly and Phillip Burger, owners of Ramona Workspace, who run a coworking space next door to Vina Ramona. The Burgers want to extend the possibilities to people who rent their workspace by allowing them access to the adjoining tasting room.

“We have a lot of great ideas when it comes to sharing workspace with a glass of wine and hosting events on our site, but we haven’t worked out the specifics yet,” Lane said. . “Everyone wants to work together and figure out how we can create new business opportunities that work for everyone, so everyone wins. Getting along with your business neighbors is very important.

La Finquita Winery and Vineyard will gradually close its doors

The owners of La Finquita Winery and Vineyard plan to close their tasting room at the end of 2023.

Charlie and Jess Koehler, 38 and 36 respectively, are in no rush to close their wineries and wineries at 23123 Vista Ramona Road. But the couple, who are dealing with different autoimmune health issues, said they feel the need to plan for their future.

“We have been facing significant health issues and as part of this we have decided to wrap up the La Finquita chapter to help us focus on our health and our family,” Jess Koehler said, declining to go into details. details of their health problems. .

Jess and Charlie Koehler intend to phase out their La Finquita winery and winery due to health concerns.

Jess and Charlie Koehler intend to phase out their La Finquita winery and winery due to health concerns.

(Courtesy of Jess Koehler)

The cellar remains open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Any changes to hours will be updated on the website and social media, Jess Koehler said.

The Koehlers have lived on the winery and vineyard property for just over eight years.

“Our plan is to wrap things up and close the tasting room and just enjoy our home and our property,” said Jess, whose 2-acre vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot grapes. “We haven’t really discussed selling the property. We haven’t gone that far yet. I guess that’s always a possibility.

Charlie Koehler continues his regular IT day job designing and building global networks for corporations and major universities. Jess Koehler previously worked with high school students as a youth minister at the church she attends, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. However, she said she quit a few years ago when she reached the point where she could no longer effectively manage both the youth ministry and the winery.

The pair became interested in the winery across the counter as wine tasters, Koehler said. On their sixth month anniversary in October 2008, she said Charlie had his first wine tasting at the Julian Apple Days Festival. Julian’s tasting room was so packed they couldn’t get in the door, she said.

“We ended up with the San Diego County Vintners Association map and saw Schwaesdall Winery on the map and it was the only wine tasting room open in Ramona at the time,” she recalls. “We stopped there, they gave us a private tour, we did a barrel tasting. We brought a group of friends a few months later.

Schwaesdall Winery owners John and Shirley Schwaesdall asked the Koehlers if they wanted to help run the business, and over time their friendship blossomed. The Koehlers worked with the Schwaesdalls for about five years as needed before opening their own winery.

“We helped them and fell in love with them,” said Jess Koehler. “An opportunity presented itself 10 to 15 years earlier than expected. We dove head first and it was fantastic.

Jess and Charlie Koehler plan to keep their La Finquita winery open until the end of 2023.

Jess and Charlie Koehler plan to keep their La Finquita winery open until the end of 2023.

(Courtesy of Jess Koehler)

Over the years, La Finquita has developed a following of fans, repeat customers and wine club members, she said. They were able to sell eight to 10 varieties of wine, depending on what was on the menu at the time.

“We will always be here,” Koehler said. “We still have lots of friends and connections in the wine community. I’m sure we’ll jump here and there to help out friends.

Shirley M. Pinder