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With a mild Mediterranean climate, rich fertile soil and more unique growing regions than any other county in America, it’s no surprise that wine grapes thrive here and that 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 have drawn more national attention, San Diego wineries are the real hidden gems. You can find them along the coast, tucked into the fertile North County farmland, up in the mountains, amidst the rugged terrain of East County—even in many urban and commercial neighborhoods. Most are small, family owned, and offer tastings and tours by friendly proprietors eager to tell visitors all about the hard work and artistry that goes into making wine. Here are a few of the San Diego wineries and tasting rooms that are definitely worth a visit.
*Wine tasting times and prices subject to change.
Where: 13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte, San Diego, CA 92128
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 is a wide variety of gift items and more than 30 local wines available to try. The tasting room opens daily at 10:00 AM and pours until 6:00 PM. Five tasting pours cost $12 and every Sunday from March-November, there is live jazz on the tasting room patio.
Where: 1120 W 15th Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025
San Diego county's historic winery, located minutes off the freeway in Escondido occupies the former Ferrara Winery. Forgotten Barrel restored this historic venue and now offers award winning wine from both San Diego county and features wines from our Napa winery. They are open Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from noon – 6:00 PM. They have live music in their courtyard every Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Tastings are $10-$15. Come enjoy this hidden gem in North County.
Where: 4836 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
The award-winning, fully-functioning winery is just steps from the Pacific surf in the heart of Ocean Beach. One step into the tasting room and you're instantly awash in the unmistakable aroma of fine wine aging in French oak barrels. It doesn't take long after that for you to sense their genuine enthusiasm and passion for wine making.
Where: 23123 Vista Ramona Road,Ramona, CA 92065
La Finquita, which means "the little farm," has been cultivating its eight acres in Ramona since 1988. Charlie and Jess Koehler—the youngest vintners and winery owners in Ramona—produce a well-rounded collection of reds, whites and dessert wines. The tasting room is open from 3:00 PM on Fridays and 11:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays until early evening. Tastings are generally $10-$12.
Where: 35960 Rancho California R, Temecula, CA 92591
Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards is located in Southern California's wine country, in 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 AM to 5:00 PM daily and the fee is $20 per person and includes a wine glass and a $5 coupon toward wine bottle purchase.
Where: 3255 Summit Drive, Escondido, CA 92025
Hungry Hawk Vineyards & Winery specializes in estate grown Spanish, Bordeaux, and Rhone varietals - hand crafted from vine to bottle. They have expanded to fifteen different varietals grown on a 10 acre property while practicing minimalist and sustainable farming.
Where: 18750 - C Littlepage Rd, Ramona, CA 92065
Located in San Diego's eastern (and vineyard rich) community of Ramona, this boutique winery has been in business since 2006. With more than 10,000 vines in the ground, Milagro produces just a few thousand wonderful cases of estate-grown wine per year, including reds, whites and even the uncommon Aleatico. The vineyard is currently overseen by the preeminent Mexican winemaker, Hugo d'Acosta. The tasting room is open every weekend for wine tasting and to view the winemaking process.
Where: 2215 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
When you visit this winery on Cedros in the artsy enclave of Solana Beach, you'll experience a fully operational winery in an urban setting just blocks from the beach. They source their grapes from vineyards in Northern California but the fruit is crushed, pressed, fermented, barreled, aged and bottled right there on site in San Diego. At their tasting room, you can sample flights of six wines (mostly reds) for $15. The winery and tasting room are open daily from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Where: 17323 Hwy 94, Dulzura, CA 91917
Only 35 minutes from Downtown, the Dulzura Vineyard & Winery is located on the historic pioneer-era Clark Ranch in San Diego's East County. The property, which has been family owned since it was established in 1885, still retains its "Old West" ambiance and even features an old horse-drawn carriage. All of Dulzura's wines are made on site and they offer tastings of red, white and dessert wines. Vineyard tours and tastings are offered on weekends.
Where: 27054 Chihuahua Valley Rd, Warner Springs, CA 92086
Located in the mountains near Warner Springs, Hawk Watch Winery uses old world winemaking techniques that result in full-bodied, bold reds and crisp, elegant whites. The entire winemaking process—from crushing the freshly picked grapes to bottling the finished wine—is done on-premises. Sample wines in their tiny tasting room or take your glass outside to sit and enjoy sweeping mountain vistas. Tastings are offered on Fridays between noon and 5:00 PM or Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM; $12 for six wines, which includes a crystal logo wine glass.
Where: 1150 Julian Orchards Dr, Julian, CA 92036
Julian's Menghini Winery is nestled in the foothills of Volcan Mountain and is surrounded by apple orchards and a six-acre vineyard. They produce 4,000 cases of wine each year, which can be sampled in their tasting room for $10 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM during the week and 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
Where: 13455 San Pasqual Rd, Escondido, CA 92025
Orfila Vineyards & Winery is one of San Diego's largest producers. Nestled in the picturesque San Pasqual Valley on the Escondido city line, this winery produces a rich variety of high-quality wines, including award-winning Rhone-style reds and luscious Pinot Noirs (a few recently received scores in the 90s from Wine Enthusiast). A large tasting room and a beautiful sprawling patio with views of the mountains and the 70-acre property make Orfila an especially enticing location. The winery charges $15 for six tastings and is open daily between 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM. Free 30-minute tours that explain the process of winemaking from vineyard to cellar are offered daily at noon.
San Pasqual Winery is an urban micro winery with locations in La Mesa, Pacific Beach and Downtown San Diego. Winemaker Linda McWilliams (who is also president of the San Diego Vintners Association) uses grapes grown in local vineyards to produce full-flavored wines that are accessible, easy to drink and very satisfying for warm weather al fresco dining (especially the rosé!). Their La Mesa tasting room opens at noon daily until 8:00 PM Monday through Thursday, until 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday and until 5:00 PM on Sunday. A flight of samples is $10. Their Downtown San Diego location at Seaport Village is open daily 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Where: 34680 Hwy 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086
Located near Warner Springs, Shadow Mountain Vineyards is a third generation family-owned estate vineyard and winery that was first planted in 1945. The winery specializes in limited production white and red table wines grown from the grapes on the estate, as well as numerous sparkling wines and dessert wines. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and tasting samples are $5 per flight.
Where: 1255 Julian Orchards Dr, Julian, CA 92036
In order to visit Menghini, you'll have to drive right by Volcan Mountain, which shares the same road. This small family-run operation is now headed up by Jim Hart, a veteran winemaker whose family has a long history in developing both the Temecula and San Diego wine regions. Hart produces a nice variety of reds and whites (the Syrah is a standout) at this property, which is one of the highest vineyards in the state at 4,200 feet above sea level.
Where: 2906 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Witch Creek Winery is located on historic Highway 101 in the heart of Carlsbad Village. It produces (mostly red) wines using grapes from other regions, and bottles them at their location in Carlsbad. Their recently redesigned Carlsbad tasting room—just one block from the beach—now includes a coffee bar, and there's a second tasting location in Julian. The Carlsbad tasting room opens at 11:00 AM daily and pours until 5:00 PM Sunday through Thursday and until 5:30 PM Friday and Saturday. The Julian tasting room is open daily with varying hours.
Where: 298 Enterprise Street Suite D, Escondido, CA 92029
This picturesque vineyard sits high in the foothills of Palomar Mountain with an ocean view 30 miles to the west. Stop by the tasting room Fridays through Sundays for pours of Rhone and Iberian varietals including Albariños and Rosados.
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