They say beer and wine don’t mix. Joe Deutsch hopes to prove this old adage wrong.

On July 22, it opened CoLab Public House in an industrial/retail center along Highway 78 in Vista. The 15,000 square foot, two-story site is the first project of its kind. Three breweries and a winery make their drinks in-house with shared equipment and serve their drinks side-by-side in a 100-foot-long communal bar.

Taprooms and wine bars traditionally have very different looks, sounds, vibes, and patrons, but Vista’s younger, more diverse population has embraced CoLab’s laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere. On opening day, more than 600 people showed up. And on Thursday night, several dozen patrons were there to watch the LA Rams-Buffalo Bills game on some of CoLab’s 18 televisions, while enjoying beers, wine and burgers from an on-site food stand.

Thursday’s patrons included San Marcos’ Irvin Martinez and Temecula’s Tatyana Arciniega, a young couple who came to watch the game, grab a burger and have a drink. Martinez was drinking a large beer and Arciniega, a non-beer drinker, was slowly sipping a glass of mead. It was their first visit to CoLab but it won’t be their last.

“We like the cool vibe,” Martinez said. “It would be a fun place to meet up with friends.”

Temecula’s Tatyana Arciniega, left, and San Marcos’ Irvin Martinez drink mead and stout, respectively, at the Breakwater Brewing booth at CoLab Public House in Vista on Thursday, Sept. 8.

(John Gastaldo/For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Vista, the mecca of beer

Deutsch, a longtime real estate developer who lives in Solana Beach, said he was drawn to Vista both for its clientele demographics and the town’s reputation as a beer-making hub. . With the addition of CoLab’s three new breweries, the City of Vista now has 24 breweries, taprooms and breweries. This is one of the highest per capita brewing rates in the United States.

Vista’s director of economic development, Larry Vaupel, said the seeds for Vista’s thriving beer industry were planted nearly 20 years ago. At the time, Vista was looking to take up much of the vacant industrial space at the same time brewers were looking for affordable premises where they could both brew and serve their beer. At the time, industrial zoning rules prohibited restaurant operations, so brewers could not open on-site drinking establishments, essential sources for building customer loyalty and generating higher revenue. So the City of Vista overturned the status quo, changed its zoning role, and brewers poured in.

“It took a lot of leadership and political courage for our city council to welcome them, but we did and they came. If you remove the obstacles, the water will flow through the path of least resistance. 15 or 20 years later, most communities have come together and realized what a major asset these companies are in industrial parks. »

Susana Arellan, center, and Jesus Raygosa, right, sample beers at the newly opened CoLab Public House in Vista.

Susana Arellan, center, and her husband Jesus Raygosa, right, enjoy beers with friends at the newly opened CoLab Public House in Vista on Thursday, September 8.

(John Gastaldo/For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Another way North County towns like Carlsbad and Oceanside have attracted brewers in the past is through Brewery Igniter programs, where cash-strapped start-up breweries can rent brewing equipment, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But Brandon Hernández, the founder and editor of the industry website San Diego Beer Newssaid CoLab Vista takes the Brewery Igniter concept and gives it a new twist.

“While San Diego County has been home to a variety of diverse brewing industry concepts, CoLab Public House represents something entirely new to the region,” Hernández said. “While several companies lived and worked within the same structure (Brasserie Igniter), they were separate and had their own dedicated breweries, cellars and tasting rooms. At CoLab, there is a brewing system that craft beer tenants share, and the tasting room is a large shared space with an adjoining bar that is split to allow ordering from four separate entities, including the one is a cellar.

Hernández said the Brewery Igniter model is used either as a way for new brewers to test their product or to help fill a production gap. But the brewers are expected to move on after securing a proof of concept to make way for new tenants. But renting from CoLab can be long term.

The CoLab concept

Deutsch isn’t a beer drinker, but he knows how to bring compatible companies together. Over the past 50 years, he has developed thousands of commercial and industrial buildings in the Southwest, including some of Southern California’s first auto service center strip malls, along with six independent auto service companies or more, in the 1980s.

About four years ago, he was discussing with a local winemaker the possibility of sharing a building with other tenants when his idea for CoLab was born. A year later, he found the moribund Sycamore Business Center near Sycamore Avenue in Vista. Despite its freeway visibility, the 1979-era center was rundown and filled with a hodgepodge of tenants like churches, a gym, a flooring store, and a sex toy shop.

To attract families, CoLab Public House has an upstairs video game room.

To attract families, CoLab Public House has an upstairs video game room.

(John Gastaldo/For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

With two Newport Beach investor friends and enthusiastic support from the city, Deutsch purchased and remodeled a 15,000 square foot building at 2129 Industrial Court in Vista at a total cost of $4.5 million. The building has a 10-barrel brewing system with up to 60 barrels for fermentation. It also has an upstairs arcade and 330 seats inside, plus up to 100 more in two patios that will open soon.

Deutsch said the shared brewery system and cellar component was initially a tough sell. He said he visited more than 100 breweries in San Diego County and a few in Orange County, all of which turned down the idea because they were afraid to be the first to test the concept. Then after Laguna Beach Beer Co. signed last November, based in Fullerton Barrel & Stave For Home and Oceanside Breakwater Brewing Co. quickly joined the project, with Badass Baby Burgers.

When Deutsch couldn’t find a winery willing to share a tasting room counter with breweries, his son Joe Deutsch Jr. of Carlsbad and winemaker Steve Michaeliszyn of Escondido created their own, Propaganda Wine Co. A former assistant winemaker for Carruth Cellars, Michaeliszyn said he plans to make a diverse mix of whites, reds and rosés, as well as champagnes and sangrias at prices ranging from $7 a glass to $100 a bottle. He is excited about the prospect of collaborating with his neighboring brewers.

“They say it takes a lot of good beer to make wine,” Michaeliszyn joked. “I like the idea of ​​working with brewers to come up with new ideas, maybe fermenting beer in a wine barrel to build acidity or adding dry hops to a Sauvignon Blanc wine to give it a more floral flavor.”

Tayna Davis and Jesse Martinez drink wine at the CoLab Public House in Vista.

Tayna Davis, left, grabs her glass of Petit Syrah from Propaganda Wines next to Jesse Martinez, both of Vista, at the CoLab Public House in Vista on Thursday, September 8.

(John Gastaldo/For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Joe Deutsch Jr. said business since Propaganda Wine opened at CoLab on Aug. 31 has been good. Over 160 members have joined the young company’s wine club, including five brewers and many residents of nearby Shadowridge Golf Club. And he said that while many CoLab visitors come to drink beer, a growing number of wine lovers are arriving every day.

The big challenge now, he said, is to publicize the location and try to spread out the activity, which is now concentrated on Fridays and Saturdays. To attract customers on other nights of the week, CoLab now broadcasts NFL games three days a week, hosts trivia nights, and offers happy hour specials Monday through Thursday.

Proof of concept

Deutsch Sr. said the opening of CoLab Public House amid a pandemic, equipment supply chain delays and the wait for the state liquor control department to clear the operation one of a kind was long and brutal. But now that he and his partners have learned the ropes, they plan to build more CoLabs in other cities.

Future locations are being considered in Temecula, Corona, Fullerton, and South Orange County, as well as San Diego’s South Bay. Their goal is to build one or two new CoLabs per year.

Vaupel, of Vista’s economic development department, said he was excited about the potential for CoLab Public House.

“Everyone is waiting to see how it works and if it’s successful,” Vaupel said. “The industry is watching.”

CoLab Public House is located at 2129 Industrial Court in Vista. It opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. For more details, visit colabpublichouse.com.