If you take a stroll around the Ferry Landing, you may notice a new shop that has taken up residence by the bay, the Coronado Tasting Room. Coronado resident Colleen Cavalieri with help from her husband, Jay, have officially opened their Vom Fass business in town with a brand new addition of the Tasting Room and are eager to share the shop’s unique experiences and high quality products in their new location.
Cavalieri previously operated her Vom Fass store in Hillcrest for a number a years before the opportunity arose for her to bring it to Coronado. “When we found this location,” Cavalieri said, “we knew we always wanted to move to Coronado…[We said,] ‘this is great, and we finally get to be in Coronado!’”
Vom Fass is an international franchise that started in Germany 25 years ago and Cavalieri was first introduced to it through her sister who worked at one of the locations in Los Angeles (there are less than 20 locations across the U.S.). “We were looking at colleges with our son and my dad said, ‘You have to go see where Helen works.’ So we went to visit her and I thought the store was just the coolest concept.”
At the time Cavalieri had been very involved as a photographer for Coronado’s schools and sports for years but knew she was ready to move on to something new and that experience sparked the start of a new journey.
When you walk into the new shop you’re greeted with walls of ceramic pots filled with vinegars and olive oils on one side, amidst beautiful gift displays, a pyramid of whiskey and bourbon barrels and a wall of colorful liqueurs in glass bottles on the other wall. Both the ceramic pots and the barrels each have nozzles for sampling and filling or refilling bottles.
“Normally we’re a try before you buy and you can taste everything in our store,” Cavalieri explained. “Right now with COVID we aren’t able to do that but we offer things in all different sizes so even if you can’t taste it, we can give you descriptions of it and you can get a little bottle to try if you want.” Cavalieri and her staff also encourage customers to reuse or even bring their own bottles and offer a discount for doing so.
In addition to their products, the Coronado Tasting Room also offers classes and tasting experiences on a regular basis. Customers can join or book events to enjoy flights and glasses of wine, flights of whiskey and tequila and more, along with cheese and meat plates, or sign up for the wine club on offer as well. “We have American whiskeys made in Wisconsin and they do all of our bottling for us. We have Irish whiskey, scotch, brandies and cognacs from other countries,” Cavalieri listed as we walked past each.
When it comes to the wine bar aspect of the store, Coronado is one of very few Vom Fass locations around the world to have that element. “I think we’re the first ones to really go bigger on that portion of it,” said Cavalieri. “We had a really big wine following at the Hillcrest store so we thought let’s make a wine bar and it’s kind of like a dream come true.”
Cavalieri is very particular with the wines she selects for the store and looks for small producers so she can let customers discover and try wines that aren’t necessarily in grocery or big box stores. “We taste everything that’s on the wine wall and we like to know the stories behind the growers. We’ve met many of them and (will be) doing a lot of events with them, bringing them in to lead tastings, for instance.” They also want to provide good value to customers and as Cavalieri tells me, “Our thing? We like to say, ‘how do you know a good glass of wine? You’re sad when it’s gone.’ We don’t like to tell people what they should be drinking; we like to guide them based on their tastes.”
In her experience so far, Cavalieri has noticed that a lot of people who come into her store gravitate towards wine. “It’s what they’re most familiar with and what initially draws them in,” she explained, as she herself first experienced upon opening. “Then people get curious start to ask what the difference is between Irish whiskey and scotch, or what do you do with the liqueurs and how do I use these oils and vinegars?” Cavalieri and her team are there to help to provide guidance and ideas for how to use each in a variety of capacities.
“Some of the vinegars are great in cocktails, for example,” she stated. One of her most popular products is a citrus vinegar called Calamansi. “That one is so versatile because it tastes between a lemon, a lime, and an orange,” Cavalieri added. “We use it in cocktails, sparkling water, it’s great on fish, it’s great on salads – by far our best selling vinegar.”
The store’s selections of oils and vinegars come straight from the growers whom Vom Fass has direct relationships with. They offer a selection of traditional Italian oils and vinegars as well as a wide variety of other flavors. “With the fruit vinegars in general, most of the time if you see a raspberry vinegar for example, it’s a grape base with raspberry flavor or juice added to it,” explained Cavalieri. “Ours are what we call ‘true fruit’, meaning they take the raspberries, turn it into wine, then turn it into vinegar so it comes straight from that fruit. That’s what makes [the vinegars] in our store so unique.”
While the Coronado Tasting Room won’t be able to open their class and tasting experiences at full capacity right away due to COVID-19, there are some outdoor tables and seating options currently available and Cavalieri and her husband have also been working to make virtual options as well. “People can come pick up their samples and we do the class over Zoom. People can either call and we can schedule it if they want to do their own group, or we’ll also have some events that anyone can sign up to join,” Cavalieri said.
Open events will be posted on their website at https://www.coronadotastingroom.com/.
Once conditions are safe to do so, the Coronado Tasting Room will resume with in-person versions, hosting classes such as Whiskey Around the World. “The whiskey classes are really fun. People come in and we do a little bit of food and Jay conducts those. With Whiskey Around the World he’ll describe how whiskey is made and the differences between American and Irish and Scotch whisky, as everybody gets to taste them.”
Cavalieri also typically runs a salad dressing workshop with the oils and vinegars, among other offerings from the duo and guests.
The Coronado Tasting Room is officially open now at 1201 First Street, #101 at the Ferry Landing. “I’m happy to be in the town that we’ve lived in for over 20 years, and we had a lot of Coronado people come over to Hillcrest so it’s great we can be here. The Ferry Landing is such a beautiful place for our customers across the bridge to enjoy and walk around when coming here now,” Cavalieri mentioned. “I love everything about [our location here], and it feels like we were meant to be in Coronado.”
You can learn more about the store online at https://www.coronadotastingroom.com/ and https://vomfasscoronado.com/, or contact them at 619-534-5034. The Coronado Tasting room is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Monday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.