Wine lovers waken dreams at Gaslamp wonderland

by Kelly Callas

Fall down this rabbit hole into a downtown fantasyland of dream-like proportions. Located on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, Vin de Syrah springs out of an Alice in Wonderland-themed fairy tale with an array of fine drinks and fanciful decor that would be enviable to the maddest of hatters.

Perhaps the most notable of this venue’s captivating qualities is its unique design. Patrons must travel below ground before discovering a wine lover’s wonderland, which is hidden behind an entrance within the mesh of a ceiling-high shrub. Although mysterious, once inside, Vin de Syrah unveils itself as an alternate universe marked by floating parasols and swaying tabletops. Without a doubt, the view alone is a fresh drink for thirsty eyes.

As suggested by its name, this subterranean space offers patrons an impressive list of domestic and international wines ranging from the familiar reds of Napa Valley to the Tuscan whites of San Gimignano, Italy.

However, cocktail enthusiasts need not fear. The bar also offers a selection of specialty drinks, including the Vice Roy, a crisp sip of Finlandia grapefruit-infused vodka with muddled cucumber and grape, dimmi liquor, simple syrup and fresh lime.

For those seeking a night of refinement beneath glowing candlelight, Vin de Syrah hosts themed wine tastings at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday for $29 plus tax and gratuity. Although reservation space is limited, this experience is a worthy try for both the “wine rookie” and the “experienced palate.”

Every Tuesday to Friday this grown-up playground serves happy hour drinks from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Patrons can treat themselves, or a significant someone, to $5 glasses of wine, $4 well drinks and $3 drafts.

Although lauded for its style and charm, Vin de Syrah’s fine wines are occasionally served naughty pairings.

Weekend nights at this enchanting establishment draw raucous crowds and, on Fridays, the bar hosts a weekly burlesque show. As a group of scantily clad women sing and shimmy their way across a sultry stage, patrons can’t help but feel the heat this spot has to offer.

Sound enticing? Tomorrow night, this space will get even hotter for a Betsey Johnson and Custo Barcelona fashion show at 8 p.m. To RSVP, simply visit

Vin de Syrah is quickly becoming one of San Diego’s greatest nighttime treasures. Wine enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike simply cannot miss this wondrous trip. So, why not take the leap? It’s never too late to drop in.