When it comes to wineries in the United States, everyone knows that Northern California, specifically Napa and Sonoma, boasts some of the best in the country. Many wine lovers also venture down to the Central Coast to see the beautiful wineries in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, but not many realize they should also venture down to the Greater San Diego Area, which is also home to some outstanding wineries.
Be sure to check out these two wineries next time you’re in San Diego.
La Finquita Winery & Vineyard
Meaning “little farm” in Spanish, La Finquita is located in Ramona on a beautiful 8-acre estate with views of Ramona Valley. The winery grows its grapes both on its own vineyard and at Old Coach Vineyards in Poway and offers wines made exclusively from grapes grown in both the Ramona Valley and South Coast American Viticulture Areas (AVA).
La Finquita Winery & Vineyard makes mostly red wines, such as the 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which features violet aromas and flavors of red bell pepper, red currant, and cranberry. The winery’s red wines also include the 2014 Butterfly Kisses. Consisting of 90% percent Syrah and 10 percent Viognier, this Côte-Rôtie-style wine features flavors of white pepper, citrus marmalade, and tart black raspberry and pairs well with pork or Frikadeller, a Danish meatball dish and a specialty of the winery’s assistant winemaker.
Red wine lovers should also try the 2015 Tempranillo, which is made from grapes grown on the Poway vineyard and offers a bouquet of cedar and tobacco and flavors of cherry and dried fig. Another wine coming from the Poway vineyard is the 2014 Petite Syrah, which features a diverse array of flavors, from dried rosemary and vanilla to black tea and black pepper. This wine has strong tannins and pairs well with pepper steak or smoked ribs.
La Finquita Winery & Vineyard also makes white wines, such as the 2018 Late Harvest Viognier, a semi-sweet wine with a bouquet of white peach, lychee, and mango. The winery’s other white wine is a Chardonnay called Puppy Kisses. This wine features aromas of lime zest, pineapple, and yellow apple and pairs well with shellfish and creamy pasta sauces.
Guests at the vineyard can enjoy tastings in the tasting room or outside on a tasting patio featuring beautiful views of the estate. Below the patio, visitors can step into the wine cave, which features walls of wine and a long, solid-wood table beneath a medieval-style chandelier, offering the ideal setting for an intimate tasting with friends.
Finally, La Finquita Winery & Vineyard boasts a unique wine label-etching service. The winery individually etches, paints, and waxes each bottle by hand, allowing wine lovers to choose from a variety of designs or even request a custom-made label.
To learn more about La Finquita Winery & Vineyard, visit www.lafinquitawinery.com.
Located in Rancho Bernardo about half an hour from downtown San Diego, Bernardo Vineyard stands out as the oldest family-owned and -operated winery in Southern California. The winery is operated by the Rizzo family, whose winemaking experience goes back three generations.
The winery mostly focuses on Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Albarino, Zinfandel, and Merlot. Its 2016 Merlot features spice and blackberry aromas as well as flavors of black currant and plum jam. Merlot lovers should also try the 2017 Merlot Reserve. Made with grapes from Sunshine Mountain Vineyards in San Diego County, this wine notes of rhubarb, oak, and crème de cassis liqueur.
Another outstanding red wine is the 2016 Burgundy. Bernardo Vineyard has been producing Burgundy since before the Prohibition era, and the 2016 vintage is an outstanding blend of Mourvèdre and Barbera.
Bernardo Vineyard’s white wines include the 2018 Viognier, which is a twist on the classic Rhone Viognier. Similar to Sauvignon Blanc from the New World, this wine features notes of pineapple guava and green apple. White wine lovers should also try the 2016 Chablis, a semi-dry wine made with Chenin Blanc and French Colombard.
The winery also offers two sweet wines, including the 2018 Vincenzo Rosado. Made from grapes grown in San Diego County, this wine features notes of rhubarb, rose petal, honey, and strawberry. The other sweet wine is the 2018 Moscato, which is made from grapes from the South Coast AVA. This traditional Southern California Moscato boasts notes of peach, honeysuckle, and key lime pie.
Visitors can sample these and other wines at Bernardo Vineyard’s tasting room, which opens daily and offers a number of foods, including roasted red pepper hummus and bruschetta. For something more substantial to go with the wines, visitors should stop by the vineyard’s restaurant The Kitchen, which serves rustic Italian cuisine such as brick-oven pizzas, paninis, and a variety of excellent pasta dishes.
For more information about Bernardo Vineyard and its outstanding wines, visit BernardoWinery.com.