Tierra Sur at Herzog Wine Cellars
3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard

I’ve been curious for some time about the locally sourced cuisine at Tierra Sur restaurant at Herzog Wine Cellars, located in an industrial park in Oxnard just a few minutes off the 101. A couple of things held me back: the location (a bit inconvenient, especially for imbibing) and the cost (prices aren’t posted on the online menu but I’m here to tell you they are “up there”).

When I learned that the winery had launched an afternoon tapas menu in the winery tasting room (adjacent to the smallish dining room) last February, I decided to satisfy my curiosity in a hopefully more affordable venue.

A couple of things.

  1. I found it very confusing to sort out what was served when and where, for a few reasons. You can make online reservations for lunch or dinner at Tierra Sur. It looks like you can’t eat at the winery between 3:30-5 p.m., but you actually can order from the tapas menu from 3:30 until 8 p.m. — in the wine tasting venue.
  2. It was not easy to get an actual human on the phone the few times I called to verify. (I ended up leaving a message for the dining room that was returned the next day and I actually did reach a human after a few tries on another occasion).

That being said, I met Camarillo marketing maven Janie Hewson for “dinch” — something hearty between lunch and dinner in the winery’s attractive high-ceilinged tasting room at 3:30 p.m. on a Monday afternoon.

Tapas may indeed be the most affordable option for many of us to enjoy Head Chef Gabe Garcia’s inventive and tasty creations.

There are some marvelous flavors — specifically the hot pink pickled lime onions that top the very tasty, light and crispy fish and chips and the amazing jalapeño aioli dipping sauce for the lightly battered ono/mahi-mahi and yucca fries (popular in Brazil, the manioc root fries have been showing up on stateside menus of late).

The veal sausage pizza— possibly the world’s tiniest $20 pizza at five inches — was packed with great flavors from the sausage, bell peppers, cashew cheese, tangy red sauce and chewy dough.

The crispy large-ish cut French fries rock: instead of ketchup, ask if they might substitute some of the awesome aioli.

We tried the colorful pickle plate ($9) with pickled beets, apples, carrots, cucumbers and cauliflower arrayed on a wooden board — more Janie’s thing than mine, and challenging with some of the wine pairings. The food tended to be on the salty side (which both Janie and I like).

Our favorite wine in the tasting, beginning with the Baron Herzog white zinfandel, was the last pour of the flight. If you partake in the six flight wine tasting ($10 per person) and purchase a bottle of wine (I bought the $22 Weinstock Cellar Select Cab, Paso Robles), the tastings are free. Such a deal!

Being a kosher restaurant (closed on Friday and Saturday for the Sabbath), we spotted a few bearded men donning yarmulkes, as well as a gal in a sparkly blouse, tattooed fella and his date in a whiplash neck brace obviously numbing her pain!

We asked to see the dining room’s dinner and lunch menus. A few dinner items include 8-, 12- and16-ounce steaks ($55-$78); gnocchi ($34) and a charcuterie board ($56) that I bet is amazing. Less expensive choices include a beef cheek handpie ($20) and mushroom soup ($14).

Lunch and the tapas menu both have the $18 “BYOB” (build your own burger) with sides including lamb bacon ($4) that boast online “thumbs up” reviews.

Kudos to the mostly jazz playlist; this always wins brownie points in my book. Service was mixed. There was about a 15-minute gap between Janie’s fish and chips and my pizza. This was explained thusly: “Tapas each come out at different times.”

The bill was $60 for the food, $23 on a separate bill for the wine (that rendered our wine flights gratis) so with tip, $100+ seemed slightly pricey for an afternoon nosh with wine tasting. Just the same, we were super full and I certainly didn’t need supper when I got home.