Robert Arends

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! 🙂

Candice

Wine and Dine During the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

November should be renamed Food and Drink month here in San Diego. In addition to the ubiquitous stuffing of turkeys happening at restaurants all over town, November is also host to 10 days of highlighting San Diego’s craft beer during San Diego Beer Week, which conveniently rolls right into 5 days of local food and wine pairings during the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival.

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

Photo: Ken Loyst

The annual celebration of all things culinary comprises nearly 30 separate events. Here are just a few that are sure to tempt your palate:

SWISH: Serious Sips & Urban Eats – November 14, 2012

Start off the festival with a mid-week kick off party including plenty of drinks from up to 25 edgiest wineries and breweries along with food from some of San Diego’s hottest new food trucks.

Location: 57 Degrees
Date: November 14, 2012
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $45 (includes $7 voucher for use at any of the participating food trucks)

The Vault: Reserve Wine Experience & Silent Auction

A can’t-miss event for the true wine enthusiast, large, collectable and rare wines will be up for auction at this exclusive event. In addition to the bidding wars, guests can take part in the fun by sampling offerings from 160 wineries and spirits producers.

Location: San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, Marriott Ballroom
Date: Friday, November 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 8:30 PM
Cost: $125

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival 2012

Photo: Ken Loyst

Grand Tasting Event

Soak up beautiful San Diego Bay views from Embarcadero Marina Park as you sip and savor offerings from more than 170 wine and spirit makers, 70 chefs, and 30 culinary companies. Plus, find out which chef will take home the coveted “Chef of the Fest” award in an action-packed culinary competition.

Location: Embarcadero Marina Park North
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Time: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Cost: $125 in advance/$150 at the door

Re-Mixed Official Festival After Party

New this year, the Re-Mixed after party turns the focus from wine to cocktails as bartenders from San Diego’s hottest cocktail joints including Grant Grill, Searsucker, Prohibition, Noble Experiment, Vin de Syrah, Craft & Commerce, Tower 23 and more mix it up for guests.  Be sure to stop by the champagne, oyster and bacon station.

Location: U.S. Grant, Celestial Ballroom
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: $50

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival 2012

Photo: Joey Hernandez

Which San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival event are you most looking forward to this year?

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. San Diego Beer Week: From November 4-13, hundreds of beer-centric events take place throughout the county during this 10-day festival that highlights San Diego’s award-winning craft beer, breweries and pubs. Two capstone events are the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival’s kick-off on November 5 at Liberty Station on Point Loma and the closing event, a beer and food pairing at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla on November 13.

2. Fall Back Festival: On Saturday, November 6, experience life in San Diego in the 1800s by heading on down to the historic Gaslamp Quarter for real gold pannin’, authentic Wild West shootouts, western bands and fun interactive activities. This annual children’s historic street faire will feature ice cream eating, pig calling, spaghetti eating and a costume contest. Kids will also love the pony rides, wagon rides and a chance to visit the William Heath Davis House for a tour of the “House of a Thousand Spiders.”

3. An Evening with America: In conjunction with the Getty-initiated Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, The GRAMMY Museum, along with Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, is honored to present iconic, GRAMMY Award-winning rock group America, this Friday, November 4 at 8:00 p.m. Hear the band in discussion about their success as hit writers of enduring rock-folk-pop classics, their celebrated 40th Anniversary Tour and the release of Back Pages, their newest album, a collection of glimmering interpretations of timeless songs. After the interview, moderated by GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli, America will take audience questions and will perform an acoustic set.

4. Bike the Coast-Taste the Coast: On November 5th, grabe your bike and take a tour of the coast. The Bike the Coast, Taste the Coast takes cyclists 7, 15, 25, 50 or 100 miles up the coast to the Oceanside Pier, where food, beer and music await. Must register by November 4, or just join in the fun at the Pier.

5. Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend: Head up to Temecula for this two day event, November 5-6, gives ticketed guests the opportunity to visit over 30 Member wineries for a fun-filled food and wine adventure. Delicious foods and wine samplings are offered at each stop as well as barrel and/or tank samples of finished and unfinished wines often not available to the general public.

Robert Arends

5 to Try: Hot Highway 94 Finds

The Big Apple recently took a bite out of San Diego’s East County in an in-depth New York Post travel article, “Good times in San Diego.” Though they didn’t get to sample Julian’s famous apple pies (Big Apple & apple pies – how almost apropos), the travel editor DID get a taste of some lesser-known, but unequivocally cool finds along Historic Highway 94. In his own words, “EAST IS IT” – and I couldn’t agree more!

Following are “5 to Try” along Historic Highway 94 – New York-certified and sure to put visitors in a Mountain Empire state-of-mind:

Gloriosa Vineyards - good to the last drop!

  1. Gloriosa Vineyards, “California’s southernmost winery,” also in Campo – just a stone’s throw from the international border. Personal wine tastings by appointment only.  The Post enjoyed “their crisp, dry Zinfandel and pleasantly plummy Cab.”
  2. Vroom! - Motor Transport Museum

  3. Get your motor running at the Motor Transport Museum in Campo.  As the Post puts it, the perfect place for “transportation nuts” with its “decommissioned bits of automotive history.”  From milk trucks to Mack trucks, this place is a hoot and a half!
  4. Pacific Southwest Railway Museum's trestle bridge over Highway 94.

  5. Choo choo down to Campo’s Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, bringing “a slice of the past to life with hour-long train rides down to the border.” While you’re there, trek off the tracks and walk over to Tecate – what the Post calls, “one of the friendliest towns on the US/Mexico border.” Also, the highway goes right under their giant trestle bridge! Continue reading
Guest Blogger

Experiencing Wine Country in Southern California Style

This past weekend, I spent the day in Temecula’s Wine Country.  Temecula is an approximately 45 minute drive from downtown San Diego and boasts a variety of vineyards.  You can pretty much have your pick of types of wines and styles: from larger wineries that feature guided tours, restaurants and spas to small family-run places, where visitors can elbow up to the oak bar to taste a Fume Blanc and Petite Syrah.

My destination for the afternoon was South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. The weather was just right to be outside sipping some great varietals.I do not pretend to be a wine expert, although I certainly enjoy drinking it.  I have lately been on a white wine kick, so I started with their 2009 Pinot Grigio.  My favorite I have to say however was their 2003 Carter Estate Private Reserve Merlot.  The description states it is a blend of blueberries and rose petals mangled with a rich chocolate, coffee earthiness that is warmed with French oak.  All I can tell you was that we really enjoyed it!  Our wine expert Brett was a great source of knowledge and did a great job and made sure we sampled some great wines.

South Coast is a great place to spend the afternoon or stay for the night.  They have a restaurant, wine tasting area, spa and fabulous villas. It’s also really well known for hosting weekend getaways, weddings, and corporate events.  It has something for everyone.

Interested in wine tasting at South Coast Winery?  Submit a comment to the blog and five lucky winners will be chosen to receive “Behind the Scenes Winery Tour and Tasting for Two” at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa.  Winners chosen Tuesday, June 8, 2010.

Post by Suzzanne Ravitz.