Raise your glass to San Diego's Wine Country!

San Diego may be the “Napa Valley of Beer” with over 80 craft breweries throughout the county. But did you know we have fabulous wine growing regions, especially in the foothills of <a title=”Discover San Diego”s East County” href=”http://www.sandiego.org/discover/east-county.aspx” target=”_blank”>East County.

The Ramona Valley and Warner Springs area near Palomar Mountain are beautiful regions to explore, dotted with dozens of wineries offering tastings and the natural beauty of the backcountry.

Wine in the Ramona Valley

Scenic vineyards at Milagro Farm

Scenic vineyards at Milagro Farm

Ramona Valley, located about 45 minutes northeast of downtown San Diego, has soils rich with granitic deposits and hilly elevations reaching 2,500 feet, providing desirable microclimates and warm summer growing seasons. Cooler ocean breezes also, surprisingly, waft this far inland to make conditions just right for grape growing.

Wine tasting at Milagro Farm Vineyard & Winery

Wine tasting at Milagro Farm Vineyard & Winery

You can find two dozen boutique wineries along Highways 67 and 78, traversing through rustic downtown Ramona and the heart of the online casino valley. A few standouts include Milagro Farm (Tasting Room open Monday-Friday: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM), Turtle Rock Ridge (open Friday-Sunday: 10:00 AM to sunset) and Woof “n Rose (open by appointment).

Did you know: Ramona wineries are world-class and have beat French varieties in competition – magnifique!

The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association is a great resource for wine tasting, tours and more. Below is a great at-a-glance map of the area to plan your sojourn through the wine country:

RVWR_map_11-25-2013_Layout 1

Adventures on Horseback is a fun and exciting way to go wine tasting while enjoying the scenic Ramona Valley and Ramona Grasslands Preserve, a sanctuary for hawks, eagles and other birds of prey. Some of the wineries they ride to include Turtle Rock Ridge, Hellanback Ranch, Hacienda de las Rosas, Kohill, Wolf “n Rose and Scaredy Cat Ranch (love the name!).

Warner Springs

View from Hawk Watch Winery

Care for a glass with this view at Hawk Watch Winery?

A little further to the north, Warner Springs – known for its famous hot springs – is a bit higher in elevation and home to four fab wineries along Highway 79: La Serenissima, Orrin Vineyards, Hawk Watch (featuring an incredible scenic overlook) and Shadow Mountain.

As the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association says, it’s “a grape day in the backcountry” – and I couldn”t agree more!

See you in East County. Cheers! 🙂

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Robert Arends

About Robert Arends

I’m a native San Diegan and man of many hats: PR, roadside America traveler/backyard tourist (especially our mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert), photographer (motto: capture the moment!), music fan, sci-fi buff, tiki collector and constant gardener. What would you do on your ideal San Diego day? I would spend the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. It’s like swimming in a huge aquarium – Garibaldi fish, lobsters, sea lions, oh my! If you were invisible, where would you go? I’d go surfing in Coronado. I’ve never surfed, but have always wanted to. If I was invisible no one would see me fall (again and again! – LOL). What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity? Walking the Prado in Balboa Park; feels like I’m in Spain. The architecture is amazing!  I also enjoy hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the annual wildflowers and exploring the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine? Linguine and red wine (wine list, please!), with tableside views of San Diego Bay. Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are… Magic Man: Paris, Bear Hands: Giants, Capital Cities: I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo, Man Man: Head On, London Grammar: Nightcall (Freemasons Remix). Follow Robert on Twitter @groovestar

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