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Sep 27, 2012 06:15 PM

San Diego Region Wines

As a long time wino and cork dork (AKA Snobby Wine Enthusiast), I just haven't been that impressed with the wine from this area. Sure I have had some decent wine from our local wineries but I have never had that "wow" factor, and have always come away from tastings thinking that for even the best wines, " I could get so much more value from other wine regions" (especially Paso Robles). I have found with very few exceptions, that the best wines made in San Diego County and even Temecula source most of their grapes from elsewhere (> 95%).

This weekend I had a bit of a wine revelation while attending Jair Tellez's pop-up at El Take It Easy (Extraordinary BTW!). A brilliant Mourvedre dry Rose just hit it out of the park and a bright well balanced Pinot Noir surprised the hell out of me. And the amazing thing is that it wasn't a Mexican winery but a Local San Diego one! Even more amazing was that the winery, Vesper, out of Valley Center, sources all their grapes from San Diego vineyards. The winemakers Chris and Alysha really have a clear vision and know what they're doing.

Well that really got me thinking about I might be missing. What other local wines are great that I just might not have tried? Anybody have any favorite local (So Cal & Baja) juice recommendations? TIA

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  1. The car club I belong to recently had a club tasting event at Pamo Valley Winery in Ramona. I was very surprised by the quality of their reds. They source all of their fruit from local vineyards in Ramona and other nearby vineyards.

    1. I recommend Hart Winery in Temecula, and I've also had very good wines from Orfila.
      Adobe Guadalupe in Baja.
      Triple B Ranch, which I think is affiliated with Vesper, is excellent.
      There are some good wines around here, but it takes some searching.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Idyllwild

        Thanks, have an appointment at Triple B tomorrow!

      2. Edwards Winery in Ramona consistently makes a very good and reasonably priced Syrah and Petite Syrah. Adobe Guadalupe in Baja's Guadalupe Valley makes a very good Syrah-dominated wine (Kerubiel, IIRC), their other Tempranillo and Nebiolo dominated wines aren't nearly as good though (why anyone the Guadalupe Valley grows Nebiolo is a mystery to me, they all suck...). And Adobe Guadalupe's wines are not imported into the US, so you pretty much have to buy them at the winery. Menghini winery near Julian has made some decent red wines in the past, but it's been a couple of years since I've tried any.

        10 Replies
        1. re: mikec

          I've really only had one Nebbiolo out of the Valle de Guadalupe that I really liked and it was pretty amazing. It was made by Andres, who was at that time the Maitre 'd for Laja. He's now, as I understand it, a partner/part owner? IIRC, Andres is making wines in Tecate under the Ulloa label.

          There have been a number of surprises for me recently with Baja wines. The sauv blanc (or maybe it was the late harvest chenin blanc) from Monte Xanic was tremendous. MX wines are supposed to be available at Costco in SD, but I can verify they are not available in Mission Valley.

          I had a chenin blanc from LA Cetto that was crystal clear, like water, bracing and amazingly good. When was the last time you could say that about a white wine. The chassle from Mogor Baden is always interesting, simply because it's an unusual (Swiss) grape in this part of the world. Bone dry, lots of mineral tones to it.

          I had a delicious Cab Reserva at Liceaga in June. The bottle I brought home from that June visit was a 100% grenache from Hacienda La Lomita, where the wine makers wife uses all the organic leftovers from the wine production to make great health and beauty aids.

          I'm actually going to V de G tomorrow. We're going to hit a couple of wineries before an end-of-the-season dinner at Deckman's en el Mogor.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Thanks so much for the information. I'm really rethinking this area.
            I desperately need to make it to V de G!

            I met Andres at the Jair Tellez Pop-Up last weekend and spoke with him extensively about his wines. I would say some were good, even very good, but just did not have that "wow" factor.

            I tried the Ulloa Sauvignon Blanc '11, His Ulloa Red 08 Blend, and his Ulloa Tempranillo 08. Of those the Sauv Blanc was the most memorable as it had muscat blended in and tasted a lot like a Viognier with that crisp citrus rounded out with that stone fruit essence. The reds were very good but not exceptional.

            1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

              I would agree with your assessment of the Ulloa reds. They were pleasant but I think they needed more time in bottle. I didn't care for the Mourvedre either. Actually, I was pretty much underwhelmed by most of the wines served at that dinner

              1. re: DiningDiva

                They were all drinkable, but what amazed me was how clean, well balanced, and drinkable the Vesper wines were. Definitely in the Old World style.

            2. re: DiningDiva

              Friends love Deckmans in San Jose Cabo...hear the pop up resto is fantastic.
              Want a full report with pics!

              Ramona surprisingly has some fantastic wine....Schwaesdall winery had one of the best Meritage..
              Going to a Cordiano winery near Mt. Woodson/Highland Valley rd that has wine and wood fire pizza.
              Salerno winery sings opera and has some good reds.
              Greater Ramona area is becoming Napa....who would of thunk?


              1. re: Beach Chick

                I went to Cordiano last spring. I don't recall exactly what we tasted, but two wines (reds) were much better than what I expected to find. The pizza was lousy, but the great view from the patio compensated.

                1. re: maestra

                  Thanks..need to get out there.
                  Want to go apple picking up in Julian on the next week or so and drink at Menghini and J Jenkins winery.
                  Dine at Jeremy's in Wynola..

              2. re: DiningDiva

                The Costco off of 94 always has some MX whites on hand. Just bought some 2011 chenin for 10.99 each - pretty tasty for the price.

                1. re: salustro

                  There's a Costco off the 94? Hmm...must get out and about more!

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    650 Gateway Center Drive
                    San Diego, CA 92102-4594

            3. In the Guadalupe Valley, Hugo d'Acosta is the GUY. Winemaker/owner of Casa de Piedra and Paralelo, and the man the Millers hired to be winemaker for their Adobe Guadalupe vineyards, he's mysterious and charismatic. He put the Guadalupe Valley on the wine map. I was last there in 2007. Great experience. Would go back today, but my husband was less enthused. Comparatively high prices. Interesting wines, salty from the sea some of them. But a simply beautiful place.

              I'm in charge of planning some tasting in Temecula for part of a friend's birthday, and I only wish it was the Guadalupe Valley instead.

              1. Let me put in a rec for Shadow MOuntain. Elevation over 3,000 feet. Some remarkable reds(particularly for prices). The carignane - who'd guess that? - subtle and really good. A couple unusual whites, a dry muscat and a viognier that I liked. But everything is estate. I think most wines atre 15-20 a bottle. Nice place for picnic.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ed Dibble

                  Thanks for the rec, Ed. We go by there all the time when out on the bike, but just never stopped. Next time, we'll certainly do that!