Escondido, CA

BIZstory: BK Cellars, an urban winery with a cosmopolitan setting

B.K. Cellars founder Joe Ames and his parents, Lee & Yvonne Ames.

BK Cellars Urban Winery & Tasting Lounge is an urban winery located in Escondido, featuring a cosmopolitan tasting lounge with crystal chandeliers, a baby grand piano and “chill” modern lounge music playing for patrons.

Walls are covered in rotating displays of artwork provided by Distinction Art Gallery in downtown Escondido.

BK’s awesome staff suggest and pour wines while offering friendly conversation to guests enjoying the relaxed atmosphere and fine wines. From the moment you enter the lounge you are warmly greeted and welcomed by staff who often come to know you on a first name basis.

The winery is located at 2225 Barham Dr., at the intersection of Opper Street near Mission Road at the southwest corner of Barham Drive and Opper Street.

BK Cellars was established by Joe Ames in April 2013 in the L shaped building owned by Joe’s parents, Lee & Yvonne Ames.

The industrial building has been in the family since its original construction in 1977. Joe’s grandfather, also Joe Ames, helped construct the former feed mill across the street on the northerly city of San Marcos side of Barham Drive when he was a regional vice president of Ralston-Purina Company. “Grandpa Joe” purchased 2225 as it was being constructed block by block. The city of Escondido has plans on file stating it is the “Ames Building.” The original architect of the building, Joseph Marca, formerly of Stegen and Marca Architects, still practices architecture today in Escondido as Marcatects, now a successful firm designing car dealerships in California.

Joe Ames is the winemaker and his spouse Dania serves as the general manager. Joe and Dania are passionate about providing quality wines to their customers.

Asked why he opened a winery, Joe answers, “First it has to be more economical to make wine as opposed to buying it, right?” BK Cellars is still exploring the answer to that. As you might have guessed “BK” is an acronym for a financial term possibly illustrating the end result of an investment when there is a lack of profit. In the meantime, we’ll affectionately call the winery a “liquidation program.”

The cellar tasting room of B.K. Cellars.

Joe and Dania Ames specialize in producing Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Syrah wines, but also make other delicious California-grown varietals from grapes grown in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara County, Temecula Valley, Cucamonga Valley, Valley Center and San Pasqual Valley.

Parents, Lee and Yvonne are great supporters of the winery; often participating in harvest, bottling operations and wine club parties.

BK Cellars is a fully functioning winery making wine by fermenting grapes trucked into the facility and finishing the winemaking process all the way through bottling. Harvest season normally begins in August and ends in October. BK Cellars is part of the San Diego Urban Wineries ( collective of wineries “bringing grapes from the country, growing wine in the city.”

BK Cellars is also a member of the recent upstart Escondido Wineries ( collective working to highlight the more than twenty wineries in the Escondido region.

In 2017, BK Cellars expanded, freeing up space in the tasting lounge and production floor for banquets, parties and fundraising events.

BK is a great community partner; often hosting fundraising events for local charities including San Pasqual High School’s dance team and auxiliary units of Rady Children’s Hospital and donating wine for fundraisers at Distinction Gallery in downtown Escondido for ArtHatch’s Teen Program, at San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, at North County LGBTQ Resource Center’s annual gala event and the Boy & Girls Club of San Diego’s annual gala event.

Why an Urban Winery and why Escondido? Joe says “Who has time for vineyard management? We rely on trusted neighbors and business partners to supply us with quality grapes from all over California for crush season. Plus, we didn’t know of another way to get started in the business and thought the idea of an urban winery was cool having been inspired by other San Diego Urban wineries like Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach.

“Escondido? Easy. My parents happened to own the perfect building in a very convenient location in Escondido near some well-known breweries and wineries such as Stone Brewing Company and Orfila Vineyards & Winery. Escondido is a hot spot for the brewery and winery scene. We think people are willing to come to a fun, trendy urban winery rather than a traditional winery to try award winning wines. In fact, BK Cellars was the first newly licensed winery within the city limits of Escondido in nearly eighty years!”

Come experience BK Cellars and try delicious wines made from California grapes served in our air conditioned crystal chandelier tasting lounge!

Good business. Great people! Enjoy!

BK Cellars Urban Winery & Tasting Lounge
2225 Barham Drive, STE D
Escondido, CA 92029
(760) 270-9851


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *