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With a mild Mediterranean climate and rich fertile soil, it’s no surprise that wine grapes thrive here and San Diego has become a top wine destination. While wine-producing regions to the north in Temecula and the south in Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley draw more national attention, San Diego wineries exist like hidden gems along the coast, tucked into the fertile North County farmland and amidst the rugged terrain of East County. Many are family owned and offer tastings and tours by friendly proprietors eager to sit a spell and discuss the nuances of their creations. Here are a few San Diego wineries and tasting rooms that are definitely worth a visit.
Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards is located in Southern California's wine country, Temecula Valley. Family owned and operated since 1996, Wilson Creek is known for its Almond Champagne and Chocolate Port. Their tasting room is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily and the fee is $15 per person on weekdays and $20 per person on weekends and holidays.
Founded in 1889, Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo is the oldest continuously-operating winery in Southern California. Guests can explore the sprawling property, home to 2,500 vines, browse more than a dozen shops on site and visit the tasting room where there are over 30 local wines on the list. The tasting room opens daily at 9 a.m. and pours until 5 p.m. on weekdays or 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Five tasting pours cost $10 and every Sunday from March-November, there is live jazz on the tasting room patio.
Only 35 minutes from Downtown, the Dulzura Vineyard & Winery is located on the historic pioneer era Clark Ranch in San Diego's east county with an Old West themed ambiance complete with a horse-drawn carriage. It has been family owned since it was established in 1885 and all of their wines are made on site and they offer tastings of both red, white and dessert wines. Vineyard tours and tastings are offered on weekends.
Located in San Diego’s eastern community of Ramona, this boutique winery has been in business since 2006 and produces just a few thousand wonderful cases a year, including both red and white, cultivated by expert winemaker Jim Hart. The winery is open every weekend for wine tasting and to view the winemaking process.
La Finquita, meaning “the little farm” has been around since 1988 and produces a boutique collection of reds, whites, fun and seasonal as well as dessert wines the tasting room is open from 2:00PM on Fridays and 11:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays until early evening. Tastings are generally $10 - $12.
Hawk Watch Winery, located in the mountains near Warner Springs, uses old world winemaking techniques that result in full-bodied, bold reds and elegant, fruit-driven whites. The entire winemaking process from crushing the freshly picked grapes to bottling the finished wine is done on-premises and visitors can sample the results in their tasting room on Fridays between noon and 5 p.m. or Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Julian's Menghini Winery is nestled in the foothills of Volcan Mountain and surrounded by apple orchards and a six acre vineyard. They produce 4,000 cases of wine each year and you can sample some of them in their tasting room for $5 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily and until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Orfila Vineyards & Winery is a boutique winery nestled in the picturesque San Pasqual Valley outside Escondido that produces award-winning Rhone-style wines. Sample six of them for $10 in the winery's tasting room overlooking the 70-acre estate daily between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. or join one of the free 25-minute tours, offered daily at noon, that details the process of winemaking from vineyard to cellar.
San Pasqual Winery is an urban micro winery located in Pacific Beach that uses grapes grown in local vineyards to produce wines that pair sophistication with down-to-earth accessibility and are perfect for sunny al fresco dining. Visitors can pop into their La Mesa tasting room beginning at 11:00 AM daily until 8:00 PM. Monday through Thursday, until 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday and until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. A flight of samples is $8.50.
Located near Warner Springs, Shadow Mountain Vineyards is a third generation family-owned estate vineyard and winery that specializes in limited production white and red table wines grown from the grapes on the estate. Guests can visit the winery’s tasting room Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and sample the fruits of the vine for $5 per flight.
Visit the Winery On Cedros and experience a fully-operational winery in an urban setting just blocks from the beach. Operated by Caruth Cellars, the winery is conveniently located in Solana Beach’s Cedros Design District. They source their grapes from vineyards in Northern California but the fruit is crushed, pressed, fermented, barreled, aged and bottled in San Diego. In their tasting room, you can sample flights of six or seven hand-crafted, single-vineyard sourced wines for $10. The winery and tasting room are open daily from noon to 9:00 PM except on Sundays when they close at 6:00 p.m.
Witch Creek Winery is located on historic Highway 101 in the heart of Carlsbad and produces small-lot, handcrafted wines using traditional winemaking techniques that result in full-bodied well-balanced wines that are rich in flavor. Witch Creek has a tasting room in Carlsbad on site at the winery, just one block from the beach, and another nestled in the mountains of Julian. The Carlsbad tasting room opens at 11:00 AM daily and pours until 5:00 PM. Sunday through Thursday and until 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Julian tasting room is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
*Wine tasting times and prices subject to change.
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