A passion for wine drove Rancho Santa Fe residents Jason Wimp and Tina Bennett to start their own winemaking company with two good friends. Along with David and Laura Bridgeman, the couple co-owns 2 Plank Vineyards and opened a new tasting room in Sorrento Valley on Aug. 31.
For now, the tasting room will be open by appointment only with guests having the ability to book barrel tastings or private parties.
“The urban winemaking scene is starting to pick up a lot of momentum in San Diego County and we are excited to be a part of it,” said Wimp. “We take a lot of pride in selling our wines to people that enjoy a locally produced, hand-crafted product.”
The tasting room offers sips of 2 Plank’s 10 wines that include varietals from all around the state. Current releases include chardonnay, zinfandel, viognier, sirah and blends of Rousanne and Grenache blanc. They hope to soon feature wines with estate-grapes from the company’s mountaintop vineyards in Fallbrook.
The 2 Plank name is a nod to the friends’ love of skiing. In the early 1800s, the first skiers would strap two planks of wood to their feet to get down the mountain. A cross of skis appear on the winery’s logo and a pair is on the wall as part of their tasting room décor.
Wimp and Bennett own the Sorrento Valley building where 2 Plank is located, a unique urban winery in a business park.
The pair of friends have known each other for about 25 years. Wimp and Bennett have been residents of Rancho Santa Fe for six years, their children Katie and Jack attend R. Roger Rowe School. Wimp’s other career is in smart card technology and Bennett just retired from work at a design firm in April. The Bridgemans live in Fallbrook where, when he’s not on the vineyard, David works as a physician.
Laura Bridgeman said the husbands got a “wild hair” about having their own winery on one of their wine tasting trips. Their wild idea became a reality when they purchased 22 acres of vineyards in Fallbrook in 2010, and Bridgeman interned at a local winery to learn the craft.
They couldn’t wait for their grapes to grow so they traveled to spots in Napa Valley and Santa Ynez to select the perfect varietals for their wines, bringing them back to their Sorrento Valley facility to make their wines. Below the tasting room lies a “true boutique winery”— using Bennett’s design smarts to make the most out of their small space with their own crusher, de-stemmer, huge containers of fermenting grapes, aging barrels, and storage.
They’ve had friends come to help with the bottling process, forming assembly lines and wrapping bottles with their stylish labels.
“It’s been a learning experience,” said Bennett of the winemaking process. “Fortunately the wine is always good.”
Their first wine was a 2010 Amador County Zinfandel that recently won a gold medal at the San Diego Winemaker Challenge.
The ski theme is carried on in the names of their two signature wines: the 2009 Piste-Off, a French skiing term for when a skier goes off the trail, and the 2012 Cold Smoke, a term for the spray of snow off a ski.
The Piste-Off is a red blend that is “in your face, concentrated goodness” with hints of licorice, tobacco and herbs-de-provence. The wine received a huge response at the Mammoth Food and Wine Fest, Bennett said.
The Cold Smoke is a Rhone-style white blend of Grenache blanc and Roussane with aromas of white nectarine and apricot, and flavors of Asian pear and citrus.
Bennett had once been a strictly-chardonnay kind of woman but her tastes have expanded since they have become winemakers.
“This has opened me up to a whole different experience. I like our 2012 Rosé of Syrah, it’s a heavier rosé, it’s not too sweet. And our new viognier is super yummy,” Bennett said. “Laura and I have become much more wine and food conscious because of this.”
Since 2010 they have waited patiently for their vineyard to grow “third leaf”— the stage of vine development where grapes can be harvested. The foursome was excited to have their very first harvest on Monday. Making wines from their own grapes will be another exciting step in the process, Bridgeman said.
Their long-range plans include building a tasting room and possibly an event center at their ocean-view, mountain-top vineyards, with hopes to host weddings and other events. Bennett said there could even be a spa.
“We’re dreaming big,” Laura Bridgeman said.
“It’s definitely been a whirlwind, but exciting,” Bennett said. “It’s really an open canvas right now, it just depends on where we take it, and by the looks of it and how fast it has all accelerated, it is going to go somewhere.”
The tasting room is located at 6242 Ferris Square. To make an appointment, purchase wine or find out more information, visit