Today, there are more than 115 dynamic wineries in San Diego County and the local industry is booming. But truth be told, there seems to be one big common misconception about San Diego's wine industry: many people think Temecula is part of San Diego County, but that's not true. No offense to our fellow winemaking friends in Riverside County, but we are not one and the same!
Once you start to explore the San Diego region, you'll discover passionate winemakers with interesting pedigrees and life experiences growing a wide selection of varietals (more than 60 distinct vinifera varietals). That incredible variety is due mostly to the exceptionally varied topography of the county. San Diego actually has more distinct microclimates than any other single county in the USA; it has grapes growing on its coastline and canyons; its mesas and mountains; even in its desert and dry washes. It has grapes growing at sea level and at every level up to 4,200 feet (which is one of the highest vineyards in the state).
San Diego's Mediterranean climate—typified nearly all year long by hot days, cool nights and ocean breezes—plays a large part in making San Diego so suitable for grape growing. France's Rhone varietals (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Marsanne, Roussanne) as well as Southern Italian varieties (Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Barbera) do particularly well here.
San Diego is home to two recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVAs); San Pasqual Valley, which was recognized in 1981, is one of the oldest AVA designations in the nation. [Did you know that the first wine grapes in California were planted in San Diego?] The second AVA, Ramona Valley, was established in 2006 and is now home to the densest population of San Diego’s wineries in the county.
San Diego wines continue to gain recognition around the world for their quality, concentration and rich aromas. Wine lovers have come to appreciate our floral Viogniers, our sassy Chardonnays, our dry rosés and our grassy Sauvignon Blancs. Red lovers adore our chunky Syrahs, our big-fruited Petit Sirahs and our softer, rounder medium-bodied Sangioveses and Montepulcianos.
In San Diego County, there are no busloads of tourists, wine trains or impersonal mega-winery experiences. Here, you'll discover actual winemakers and friendly folk at intimate boutique wineries that have—more often than not—been built by the winemakers themselves.
In San Diego, you can stroll through 70-year old Zinfandel vines growing on a mountain side at 3,500 feet, hitch up your horse and sip a Spanish Albariño at a charming hacienda property, enjoy live music, art and Ruby Cabernet on a Sunday afternoon, or sit back on a sunny, dog-friendly patio and taste a robust Petite Sirah.
From the mountain vineyards of Warner Springs to the pastoral countryside of Ramona; from the majestic hills of Escondido to the urban wineries of downtown and the coast, San Diego offers an authentic, unique and personal experience that’s sure to thrill and inspire any wine lover.
Meet the members of the San Diego County Vintners Association and view an interactive San Diego Wine Country Map.
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