There’s no need to venture all the way to Temecula in order to taste some of California’s finest wines. San Diego County is home to several award-winning wineries, many most likely within a few minutes driving distance from your affordable San Diego hotel. The warm Mediterranean climate is perfect for growing grapes and with both large wineries and small family-owned establishments, there is plenty to see and taste. Some are set along the stunning coast while others are hidden within the rolling hills of the north. Even more are tucked into the mountains of the east, and one little gem has made its debut in downtown’s Little Italy. Here are some of our favorites that we’ve deemed well worth the short drive.
Carruth Cellars- Winery on Cedros
Carruth Cellars operates the Winery on the Cedros, an urban winery and tasting room located just blocks from the ocean in Solana Beach. This coastal winery acquires its grapes from various vineyards in Northern California and then completes the wine making process at their beach location. An added bonus is that this fun and event-filled winery is located just 20 miles north of downtown San Diego.
Bernardo Winery is the oldest winery in San Diego. Founded in 1889 on what was originally a Spanish Land Grant, the Bernardo Winery has stood the test of time, even surviving the difficult years of Prohibition. Today, the winery still operates out of the original buildings which are now over 125 years old. The old world, rustic ambiance and the little-village shops, art galleries and restaurant truly allow wine lovers to step back into time and fully enjoy their wine tasting and shopping experience. Located in Rancho Bernardo, an entire day can be spent touring the winery, sampling different varietals in the tasting room, and perusing the village. Take part in the Annual Bernardo Winery Grapestomp which occurs every mid-September and includes a traditional Italian buffet, live music, and of course, grape stomping. Or stop by on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy a glass of wine and live musical entertainment on the Tasting Room Patio.
Hacienda de las Rosas Winery
Hacienda de las Rosas Winery makes its home in the town of Ramona, just 45 miles northeast of downtown San Diego. Ramona is nicknamed “The Valley of the Sun” as it is nestled in both the Santa Maria and San Vicente Valleys at the base of the foothills to the Laguna Mountains. Hacienda de las Rosas blends two of Spain’s finest passions together: Spanish wine and horses. Doubling as both a winery and a Peruvian Paso Horse Ranch makes a visit to this vineyard truly unique. The atmosphere of the mission-style winery perfectly complements the fine Spanish reds that Hacienda specializes in. A tour of the winery includes picturesque views of the beautiful Ramona scenery as well as views of the majestic Peruvian Paso show horses. The wines are all named after one of the horses and can be sampled in the tasting room.
Menghini Winery makes its home in the foothills of Volcan Mountain near the historic town of Julian, which sits about 65 miles northeast of downtown San Diego. Unlike many other areas of Southern California, the location of the Menghini Winery in the Cuyamaca Mountains provides a climate that includes four diverse seasons. Enjoying a glass of wine amidst the changing colors of autumn or sampling wines in the tasting room while watching snow flurries hit the windowpanes can make a visit truly unique when compared to other area wineries. Take a little extra time and venture past the numerous apple orchards into the nearby town of Julian. With roots that date back to the 1870s gold rush, this little town embraces its history and exudes unending charm, from storefronts housed in original buildings to the boasting of their famous apple pie.
San Diego Cellars
San Diego’s Little Italy district is one of downtown’s most thriving neighborhoods. Filled to the brim with Italian restaurants, quaint sidewalk cafés, art galleries, boutiques and plenty of pubs to keep the nightlife hopping, it carries an ambiance unlike any other area of the city. San Diego Cellars has now moved into the neighborhood as the city’s first urban winery. Offering wine tastings, a dining menu, indoor and patio seating, live entertainment, and even beer, SD Cellars is ready to make their footprint in San Diego. With a nod to the local brewery methods, they offer wine on tap, which is way to allow for wines to be featured in a rotation so as to keep things changing and enabling newer wines to be introduced more frequently. Wine lovers will enjoy their refillable one-liter bottles called the “CRUzers.” Grapes are sourced from several California vineyards, including many in the San Diego area.
All vacationing “winos” should take time to taste the county’s top varietals during their travels. Each of these wineries is unique in its own right, offering decadents wines, a fun atmosphere and a great day trip option when staying in one of San Diego’s Little Italy hotels such as Pacific Inn & Suites. If you’re still looking to book a room for your upcoming trip, contact Pacific Inn at 1-800-571-2933!