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Poway High Grads Turn Usual Hobby into 'Abnormal' Wine Biz

Abnormal Wine Company aims to make wine you can't find at the local grocery store.

For two long-time friends and former Poway High School students, what started out as a hobby has become a business, catered to winos in Rancho Bernardo looking for something a bit ... abnormal.

James Malone and Matt DeLoach have been friends for years, graduating together from Poway High School in 2001. After growing their own grapes "just for fun" and making (and drinking) their own wine, the pair decided to put their passion to the vats and started Abnormal Wine Company in Rancho Bernardo.

"It started as a hobby," DeLoach, who hails from Santa Barbara, said of wine-drinking and -making. "We wanted to focus on wines you can't find at the grocery store."

Abnormal Wine Company, which officially opened in September last year, is different from your average winery you see lining the hills with rolling fields of grapes and vines. Instead, the company ships in grapes from all over—Northern California, Chile, Australia, Italy and France, to name a few—and ferments them in house.

"We get two vats—one with grapes, one with the skins," DeLoach said.

Together, Malone and DeLoach mix the grapes, easing their way into more playful flavors. Right now, Abnormal Wine offers up a special Merlot that's darker than the traditional Merlot and aged in three types of oak.

But perhaps the most unusual glass of fermented grape juice the pair makes—and one of the most popular, according to DeLoach—is their port, which is enhanced with essences like berries, oranges and even coffee.

"We're starting to blend and play around," the Santa Barbara native said, noting that their coffee-essenced port will be available soon.

The unusual wine company is also catering to the "everyday people" out there who enjoy a class of vino or two. The wines are listed by numbers, to help take the intimidation out of ordering wine, which can sometimes be tricky to pronounce.

"We're not catering to the wine snobs," DeLoach said. "We're trying to create something that can be fun again."

The friends and business partners said they're focusing on bringing wines to the community that you can't currently find in the grocery store. The company makes about 3,100 bottles of wine every three months and offers up both red and wine varieties.

"We're trying to create an assortment so people have a lot to choose from," DeLoach said.

Abnormal Wine is also looking for more "pop-up restaurant" events, where a local chef comes into the space and pairs each wine with a course, an event DeLoach and Malone have already pulled off successfully last November, just two months after officially opening.

Abnormal Wine Company hopes to make its way into grocery stores and restaurants in the coming year, but local residents can get a taste of the unique flavors getting squeezed out at the tasting room, located at 16990 Via Tazon #123 in San Diego. The tasting room, which oozes comfortability and class at the same time, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2-6 p.m.

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Gayle Falkenthal March 27, 2013 at 06:16 PM
James and Matt, I love this idea and your business model. Congratulations on your venture. I intend to become better acquainted with your wines soon. Tipit and cheers!
Sherry Spivey March 28, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Matt, hurry up with that coffee port. (Yes I know quality cannot be rushed,) because everything I've gotten already is INCREDIBLE! Sherry Spivey

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