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San Clemente Journal

A New Winery-Restaurant Makes a Home on Del Mar

Mar 05, 2020 09:46AM ● By Nina Welch

Kyle Franson, founder, with his team at the Grand Opening on Del Mar.

by Nina Welch, The Downtown Beat

Rancho Capistrano Winery has found a second home in San Clemente. Kyle Franson, founder, came up with a concept of operating a legal winery in San Juan Capistrano five years ago. “Our Wine Club exceeded our wildest dreams. We now have 1500 members,” says Franson.

The San Clemente location opened at 124 Ave. Del Mar last October. The winery license consists of winemaking regions from Paso Robles, Napa and Walla Walla, WA. The grapes are grown and produced in these regions and brought to San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano for blending, bottling, and labeling. According to Franson, the San Clemente winemaking process is conducted in the restaurant, downstairs, and at their Pico facility. He noted that the winery is considered a family affair. His wife, Sylvia, is a wine enthusiast, and his kids are employees in the summer. Daughter Brooke attends school in New York and son Christian is studying abroad in Florence.
Franson says that the San Clemente Del Mar location works well for the winery-restaurant due to the downtown-hub atmosphere.  He also likes the intimate, relaxed-vibe setting. The décor’s center-of-attention is the exquisite selection of fine-wines that flank across the length of the restaurant. “We have 30 different wines and a few you’ve never heard of,” says Franson. The colorful selection within the art installation represents a vast selection of fine wines. The monthly wine clubs offer two bottles of wine, half-off Tuesdays, and discount purchases. 

Rancho Capistrano Winery not only has wonderful wine but a patron can enjoy brunch, lunch and dinner. When asked the favorite menu items of diners, Cordon Bleu-trained Executive Chef Adrian de la Torre noted that some of the popular dishes include deep-fried brussel sprouts, scallops, shrimp, the sea bass entree, and the sea bass sandwich. Ally Prather, General Manager, added that there are also wine tastings and limited-edition beers. Happy-hour happens from 3-6 pm on weekdays. 

Franson grew up in Laguna Beach, but his family is from Minnesota. Therefore, he and Chef de la Torre have a strong connection as Viking fans. Another connection is their recent trips to Italy. De la Torre honeymooned in Florence in October of last year and Franson and his wife vacationed there in November. The owner and chef both returned with inspiration for new dishes. Looks like the concept of wineries in South Orange County is a winner.

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