Drinks on the Coast
Pristine views of the California coast, a peaceful refuge from the daily hustle of the SF Bay Area, and fresh seafood come to mind when one thinks about the Half Moon Bay Coastside. Those who know their way around this area also know about our community’s worst-kept secret: the world-class wines, spirits, and beers produced on our side of the hill.
Ranging from Linda Mar to south of Half Moon Bay, coastside craft beers, wines and spirits garner awards and international recognition regularly; the relative remoteness of these locales leaves most of these businesses quiet compared to their peers over the hill, contentedly producing small quantities of high-quality libations to meet their modest demand.
It’s not that these locations are unknown; coastside wineries like Trojak-Knier and Barterra regularly take home awards at events such as the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Hop Dogma earns medals at national and international-level brewing competitions. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, founded in 2000, was an early part of the bay area craft beer movement and stands out as a deep-rooted craft brewery that turns out small batches of high quality beer, distributed all across the bay.
The reason why crowds don’t always venture to the coast to sample these temptations is logistical; arranging a ride from location to location between drinks isn’t always simple, and with a lack of public transportation, there are few alternatives.
At Half Moon Bay Coastside Tours, we have a solution. Contact us, and we will customise a beer, wine and/or spirits tour tailored to the interests and preferences of your group. Mixology sessions with Ulli at Half Moon Bay Distillery, for example, are a popular choice for corporate retreats and team building events.
Check out some of the many options available for your custom drinks tour of the coast!
Located on downtown Half Moon Bay’s main street, Barterra Winery is a family business that offers visitors wine tastings as an experience. Their tasting room is located in an enchanting courtyard that doubles as an art gallery and garden. Entering from main street, one feels transported to a secluded sanctuary. Excellent wines and a lineup of fine pairings, including artisan olive oils, chocolates, and licorice bring the whole experience together.
Bart and Mary Colucci own and operate the winery, and Bart’s wines take a strong inspiration from his Italian heritage. The grandson of an Italian immigrant, Bart has a reputation for delivering quality wines with a taste for the styles and qualities of that heritage.
Bart personally curates his selection of wines, sourcing from vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma, Carneros, Amador, Alexander Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Lodi and Madera. His impeccable nose (and palate) for quality has garnered Barterra an impressive lineup of awards, including double golds at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Barterra customers come for the wine and stay for the experience. With its enchanting atmosphere, delicious pairings, and a variety of wines that offers something for every preference, it’s easy to let an entire afternoon slip by at Barterra.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, or “Brewco” as we locals usually call it, is a classic location on the coast. You can find its beers at stores, bars and restaurants around the bay area, but its brewing site and restaurant in Princeton offers an experience: fresh, locally-sourced seafood, outdoor seating with an ocean view, and specialty brews on tap you can’t find anywhere else.
HMB Brewco has been a cornerstone of our community since it opened in 2000. The first green-certified business on the San Mateo Coast, the brewery and restaurant support local agriculture and industry, recycling spent grains from the brewing process and supporting sustainable seafood production.
Brewmaster James Costa has a reputation for innovating and experimenting with creative new beer recipes. You can always find local favorites such as the Full Swing IPA and the Calf-Eine Coffee Milk Stout, but the specialty brews on tap are always changing. You might want to bring a growler, because you just might find a unique beer you love.
Half Moon Bay Distillery
Ulli Bisono and her partner/husband Caesar Bisono are passionate about distilling, and are pursuing their dream of operating a distillery on the San Mateo Couty coast.
Austria-born Ulli has always been passionate about craft spirits, bringing her inspiration from brandy makers in the northern Austrian Alps. Caeser was born and raised in New York and spent his childhood summers with his grandparents in the Dominican Republic; his connoisseurship of fine liquors stems from his Dominican heritage. Both founders come from previous careers. Ulli is an attorney and founded a successful real estate company in California. Caesar was a professional athlete, a jockey riding thoroughbred horses.
The fruit of their work and dedication is a lineup of spirits that’s met strong local demand; you can find their Purissima Vodka and Harvard Avenue Gin at bars and restaurants up and down the coast.
The distillery offers facility tours and a mixology workshop, where visitors can learn about the process that goes into hand-making a smooth spirit. Ulli makes a spicy Bloody Mary that we absolutely love! The experience of seeing the facility and meeting the artisans behind the craft makes this a must-do for a tasting tour of the coast.
This spot is a local favorite and an important source of choice wines on the coast. Located in Linda Mar, Table WINE is a family operation lead by experienced and passionate Katie Brookshire.
Not only is this a great place to find hand-picked wine selections from California and around the globe; visitors can stop in for a wine tasting experience and learn about each wine they taste. Katie chooses her product carefully, with a keen eye for value; I’m always amazed by the high-quality wines that go for under $20. There are, of course, reserve wines for those special occasions as well.
Beyond the impressive selection, Table WINE offers guests a positive, family-friendly experience. There’s a chance you’ll meet Courtney, Atticus, or the newest addition to the family, Theadosia.
Stocked with great wines, craft beers, gourmet French cheeses and other delights, Table WINE has something for everybody!
The Wine Room
The Wine Room in Moss Beach is a great place drop in for a tasting. A relaxed atmosphere with a fantastic selection of wines, this tasting room offers delicious cheese and cured meat platters and thoughtful pairing suggestions.
To learn about wines, selections and pairings from a local sommelier, this is a great place to stop. The owners produce their very own J7 wines, and serve selections from Jordan, Faust, Merry Edwards, Duck Horn, Round Pond, and more. The simple fare is of very high quality, and properly paired delivers a delightful experience.
With occasional live music and events, this spot is a local favorite and a great way to come meet some local connoisseurs!
Hop Dogma Brewing Company
Hop Dogma came along in 2013 and shook up the coastside with its exceptional craft beers. This wasn’t just another brewery; founders Dan and Ethan were longtime friends and home-brewed together before opening the now-legendary brewery and bar. Locals immediately recognized the new brewing company as something special, voting them in for the Half Moon Bay Review Reader’s Choice Award for Best Beer Bar in 2014; their taproom has been named Best Place to Get a Beer on the Coast every year since opening. In 2015, Hop Dogma earned a silver medal for its Yogi Beera Sour Ale at the Central California Craft Beer Competition and a gold medal for its Fides in Fermento Imperial Stout at the Best of Craft Beer Awards. Since then, the brewery’s list of awards and accolades continues to grow, and now includes a silver medal awarded at the Great American Beer Festival, the largest craft beer competition in the world.
The brewery’s name is somewhat ironic, considering the brewers at Hop Dogma love to experiment with new recipes and flavors. You can find their award-winning regulars, like the Pyro’s Prost Chili Beer and Fides in Fermento Imperial Stout (try the bourbon barrel aged version if you get a chance; it’s a treat for strong, dark beer lovers), alongside new creative works and experiments whenever you visit.
At the time of this publication, Hop Dogma is moving to a new location (nearby) to handle the incredible demand for its award winning brews; the modest taproom where the business started was simply too small to accommodate the growing crowds of thirsty beer connoisseurs. This move is prescient, as Hop Dogma is an important gathering place for locals as well. When the crowds of visitors leave too little space for the loyal clientele who supported the establishment in its infancy, it’s time to upgrade.
If you or anybody in your group is a craft beer enthusiast, you cannot miss Hop Dogma Brewing Company.
Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company
HMB Wine & Cheese Company has a mission to bring gourmet wine and cheese to downtown Half Moon Bay. Owners T.J. Rodgers and Valeta Massey own and operate Clos de la Tech winery and three vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains; their HMB store is oriented towards creating a pleasant experience with pairings of fine wines and foods in a casual, comfortable environment.
The in-store tasting bar boasts 60 varieties of wines available for tasting at any time, with an ever-changing selection that always includes 6-8 Pinot Noirs. Compliment your tastings with gourmet cheeses and other delightful pairings. An expert, knowledgeable staff with a taste for fine wines and pairings curates the perfect tasting experience for each visitor.
Trojak-Knier is a hidden gem on the coastside. A partnership between two former-hobbyist winemakers, Jim Knier and Eric Trojak have been producing wine together since 1993. They perfected their craft with a humble home wine making project, gradually expanding until the duo went commercial in 2009. By then, their pet project had grown to a production volume of 350 cases per year; Trojak-Knier intends to keep production at that level into the foreseeable future.
Since their debut as a commercial winemaker, the team has earned an impressive list of awards that includes reds and whites of several varieties with double gold awards in the mix. It’s a perfect example of the outstanding quality of small batch wines coming from our quiet community.
The Trojak-Knier tasting room is a treat and great way to taste a variety of award winning wines and learn from the experts of this craft. For the wine connoisseur and the winemaking enthusiast, this is a highly recommended stop.
Sacrilege Brewing + Kitchen
With a passion for beer, a desire to partake in the art of brewing, and a keen palate for exceptional cuisine, Brewmaster Joe Pacini founded Sacrilege Brewing in downtown Half Moon Bay. More than just a taproom, Sacrilege serves up food with whose quality is on par with the very best in town.
The beer menu always includes three or four in-house brews with a few creative recipes in the mix. In addition, a selection of beers from local brewing companies is on tap. From sour ales to heavy, dark stouts and an IPA or two in the mix, there’s something to treat every form of thirst; some wines and cocktails are available from the “not beer” menu for those who come for the fantastic food but prefer other types of drinks.
For every pour there is a perfect food pairing; the regulars on the menu such as the Coastside Po’ Boy and the spicy pulled pork sandwich are always delicious. In addition, the specials are always fantastic, so it’s best to come with an open mind and an empty stomach. My personal recommendation would be the fish tacos; the True Cod Tacos come with a house-made chipotle aioli and compare with the very best in the state (yes, SoCal included.)
La Nebbia Winery
On highway 92 leaving Half Moon Bay, one will pass La Nebbia Winery, its wood panel face inviting passersby to stop and experience the tasting room.
Founded in 1979, this winery produces award winning wines which are available for tasting. The experience of stopping in offers more than a basic tasting; paired with cheeses and other delicious bites, the experienced winemakers at La Nebbia deliver a great lineup of flavors. Among their products is an award-winning garlic mustard, which according to some is so delicious it’s worth the trip on its own.
Behind the highway-facing building is an extensive, tranquil garden that beckons visitors to relax and enjoy a quality glass of wine. For those who want to visit an inspiring place with great wines and fun flavors to compliment, La Nebbia is a great choice!
Come Taste the Coast
There’s so much tasting to do and so little time. We at Half Moon Bay Coastside Tours will make your visit to our community simple by putting together the perfect tasting experience for your group.
For personalized tours, lodging, transportation, and other details of your trip, we are local experts who connect you with the best Half Moon Bay experiences. Contact us to find out how we can help organize your next corporate team outing or weekend getaway!
-Michael Klear, Half Moon Bay Coastside Tours Guide & Blogger