Our Story

What’s Our Story?

20150411_111502When one door closes, another one usually opens right before your eyes you might just have to look for it. Eighteen years in a high stress tech industry the door closed for Darius; then is slammed shut as a health scare shook the family into reality on how fragile life is and how fast life goes by. You never know if you have another day, month, year or decade.

We now follow the mantra of do what you love and to make a positive difference in the world.

We decided to follow our hearts and live a dream by creating Koi Zen Cellars Winery.

We have combined our love of wine, photography, education and community focus and created a place where you can take a break from your busy schedule, enjoy wine by the glass, bottle or barrel with friends and family and feel a sense of community.  Our catch phrase is  Uncork, sip back and relax!

Have you ever been to a winery and felt uncomfortable for asking a question about wine? Have you ever been asked if you have a reservation when it is obvious that there is plenty of room at the tasting bar? You won’t find that here.   We want to take the stuffiness out of wine. We will help you find the style of wine you enjoy and to become confident in selecting wines by learning about  different aspects of wine. We hope you will also enjoy this wonderful world of wine!  Cheers!


What is an Urban Winery?

An Urban Winery is just like any other winery you have been to, it is just not in a vineyard; it typically is in an industrial park or commercial space. A little gem in a space you would not think it to be.

Where are you located?

We are down the street from Home Depot in Carmel Mountain on World Trade Drive, two buildings north of Fit Gym in the Carmel Mountain Business Park (12225 World Trade Drive Suite P. San Diego, CA 92128) Look for the Wine colored flags!

Why no Vineyard?

Not being tied to a specific piece of land, we are able to source the best fruit possible to make our wines. We source primarily from Napa, Sonoma, Paseo Robles, Santa Barbara and Lodi counties which grow world class grapes.

What makes good wine?

It all starts with quality fruit and close attention to details. This is everything from how the grapes are cared for in the vineyard, how they are processed in the winery, how they are aged or stored and served to you. Every little detail matters to us.

How did you get started?

Lisa and I have loved wine for many years and have always been eager to learn more about wine and wine making. We have taken many classes, watched a lot of educational videos, visited a lot of tasting rooms and invested in a lot of wine. Darius worked with several winemakers with lots of hands on experience.  We wanted to share this enthusiasm and education with you by making wine more accessible to the local community.

Do you offer classes?

We offer a wide range of classes ranging from basic tasting, food pairing, blending, identification as well as hands on classes to bring out the winemaker in you.

Do you offer tastings?

We offer flights of wine for you to learn about and sample in the tasting room or you can reserve a private tasting, just call us. You can even buy wine by the glass to really get to know the wine. Wine Flights (6 pours)  are just $10

Is the winery kid friendly?

Lisa and I are very family oriented, though a winery is not an appropriate place for underage children; they often get bored and you get frustrated. It’s better to find other arrangements for the kids.

What if I don’t know what I like, will I feel silly or stupid?

The wine industry historically make things stuffy, we DON’T. Our goal is to create a relaxed and remarkable setting for you to relax, sip and learn.