Wine aging gracefully in La Jolla


To drink, or not to drink: That is the question that has been a wine connoisseur’s conundrum for generations.

It is difficult strategically or financially for a restaurant to tie up the tremendous amount of capital necessary to age wines such as Barolo or Bordeaux for at least a decade until they open up to reveal their maximum potential. A private collector may have the time and capital to care for wines that require years in the cellar, however it is clearly not as enjoyable to merely look at a bottle of wine as it is to uncork it and reveal what is inside.

La Cave Rouge is an ultra-premium family-owned wine retailer designed to address this issue. They feature over 5,000 bottles of aged California red, Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Italian wines to help their customers fill out their collection with ready-to-drink selections or to introduce new customers to properly aged classics. La Cave Rouge also wholesales to restaurants so they may offer guests an evolved bottle to showcase with their cuisine.

Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Mark Lippman and Sara Valerio, La Cave Rouge supplies wines for those who appreciate that wine is more than simply what is in the glass. Lippman states that the reason they started the business was because the San Diego market was “shallow in terms of vintage and European wines.”

They believe traditional winemaking practices can produce wines that reflect the terroir, or place and climate where the grapes were grown. “To drink a glass of wine is like to take a trip,” says Valerio. She believes modern winemaking can strip the end product of the unique character that is developed in the vineyard during the growing season. Therefore, their company represents classically styled wines from only the greatest growing regions of the world. “We want people to try the wine; to get inside the wine,” says Lippman.

La Cave Rouge not only provides first-class wines, but also offers service to match. Lou Ferreira is a wine specialist in charge of the day-to-day operations of the business. He shares the love of classic wine-growing regions as he has been collecting “Old World” wines since he was a teenager. “We focus on more refined wines,” says Ferreira. He indicates that more than 50 percent of their current inventory contains red and white Burgundy.

Also on staff are Sommeliers Paul Krikorian of La Jolla Country Club and Jerome Astolfi of Market Restaurant and Bar in Del Mar. Krikorian says of La Cave Rouge, “These are people that are truly committed to the Old World style of wine. I love their passion and enthusiasm.”

Astolfi, who was recently named “Sommelier of the Year” by Riviera Magazine, says he is proud to be associated with the people involved with the business because of their “authenticity and enthusiasm.” Both Sommeliers will answer questions for customers as well as write articles and online blogs about wine and products of La Cave Rouge.

La Cave Rouge is strictly an online retailer with no brick-and-mortar store, however for a personal appointment and tour of their cellar call 858-699-2272 or visit them online at