San Diego's legacy of viniculture reaches back into the 18th and 19th centuries when the Franciscans tilled the San Diego Mission lands, as the favorable climate and soil conditions allowed the vines to flourish. The city’s first urban winery came to be in 1889 when Italian immigrant Virgil Bruschi started producing wines at Fifth and J Street to the delight of the Italian community in Little Italy.
Today, there are more than 100 dynamic wineries in San Diego County, as the local industry is booming. But truth be told, some misinformation seems to surround San Diego’s wine industry. For example, to the surprise of many, Temecula is not part of San Diego County. No offense to our fellow winemaking friends in Riverside County, but we are not one and the same.
Once you start to explore this region, you’ll discover passionate winemakers with interesting pedigrees, growing a wide selection of varietals, thanks to the incredibly varied topography. San Diego has more distinct microclimates than any other single county in the USA with its coastline and canyons; mesas and mountains; desert and dry washes.
San Diego’s Mediterranean climate—hot days, cool nights and ocean breezes—also comes into play, making the area a prospering grape-growing region. France’s Rhone varietals as well as Southern Italian varieties do well here. Clusters of small, family owned wineries have popped up across the county from the high altitude vineyards of Julian and Warner Springs and mom-and-pop tasting rooms in Ramona to sprawling estates in Escondido and urban wineries tucked into the city and coastal communities.
San Diego wines are getting better and better as you can find floral Viogniers, flirty Chardonnays, dry roses, and grassy Sauvignon Blancs, along with medium-bodied Sangioveses, robust red blends, rich and dense Petit Sirahs and more!
In San Diego County, there are no busloads of tourists and or impersonal mega winery experiences, rather you’ll discover friendly folk at intimate boutique wineries. Here, you can stroll through 70-year old Zinfandel vines growing on a mountain side at 3500 feet, hitch up your horse and sip a Spanish Albariño at a charming hacienda property, enjoy live opera, art, and Ruby Cabernet on a Sunday afternoon or sit back on a sunny, dog-friendly patio and taste a provocative Petite Sirah. “ It’s a place where oenophiles can connectwith local winemakers and their artisan wines in relaxed settings. ”
From the mountain vineyards of Warner Springs and pastoral countryside of Ramona to the warehouses of Valley Center and urban wineries of downtown, San Diego has something for everyone.Meet the Members of the San Diego County Vintners Association and view an interactive San Diego Wine Country map.
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