The two have been meeting with event planners, pitching their baby, the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center. "It's going to look like a wine cellar, with stacks of barrels and antique wine presses. We can have things like Hans doing a chef's live demonstration in the middle of an event. We'll do a barrel tasting as part of an event -- all these little twists that take it outside the realm of a regular banquet facility."
The biggest twist will be the "educational elements," says Alongé. "One thing we're going to do is grow grapevines outside and trellis them. We'll have plaques that explain pruning and trellising and all these things. We'll have a big wine-country mural inside, with plaques that explain what the winemaker does every month of the year, month by month. I've discovered late in life that what I really like to do is teach. What I really like to do is go in every day and be challenged by new circumstances."
More plans are in the works -- a possible excursion business, leading tours to Baja wine country and elsewhere. And the project is gathering buzz. "Already, we've been approached by investors looking to replicate this in Santa Barbara and Sacramento. I think the model -- if you have the right demographic and you're near a wine-producing area -- could be replicated. So it's very exciting. But so far I've just said, 'I've got to make this one work first.'"