IMAGE COURTESY OF TURTLE ROCK WINERY

IMAGE COURTESY OF TURTLE ROCK WINERY

What is the San Diego County Vintners Association (SDCVA)?

The San Diego County Vintners Association (SDCVA) is a non-profit association dedicated to supporting the San Diego viticulture and winemaking community, educating local wine enthusiasts and embracing sustainable agricultural practices in the county.

As the numbers of wineries in San Diego are growing significantly, with 114 wineries and dozens of vineyard across the county (excluding Temecula, which is in Riverside County), so is our passion for putting San Diego on the map as the next hot California wine region. About Page

When did winemaking in San Diego begin?

San Diego County: where California wine began . . .

People are often surprised to hear that San Diego was the first area where vineyards were planted and wine produced. San Diego County’s legacy of viticulture and viniculture reaches back into the 18th and 19th centuries when the Franciscans tilled the San Diego Mission lands, as the favorable climate and soil conditions allowed the vines to flourish. California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was well known for the quality of its wine. After the Civil War, San Diego saw an influx of German, French and Italian immigrants from Eastern states who brought vines clippings of European origin. The wine industry flourished here until the destructive flood of 1916 and, eventually, Prohibition and World War II devastated the industry. More Wine History

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IMAGE COURTESY OF ORFILA WINERY

How many wineries are in San Diego?

There are currently 114 wineries in San Diego – not including Temecula, which is in Riverside County! Most of these wineries are operated by first-generation wine growers who were attracted to the pioneering spirit of San Diego’s wine scene. Some are urban wineries in small downtowns and trendy areas such as Hillcrest, North Park and Coastal North County San Diego.  Many are in rural areas with tasting rooms right on vineyard properties with gorgeous vistas and warm breezes. A number of the wineries in San Diego County have regular tasting room hours. View Interactive Map

Where do the wineries get their grapes from?

San Diego wineries get a large portion of their grapes from vineyards within the county. Most wineries grow grapes of their own and there are a number of local growers who sell their production exclusively to San Diego County wineries.  With the explosion of the wine industry here, the demand for quality grapes still outstrips the local supply, so some local vintners also make quality wines from grapes sourced from a variety of other California appellations: El Dorado, Lodi, Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles and others. There are even some San Diego County wineries producing wines from grapes sourced in Baja, Mexico.

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IMAGE COURTESY OF ORFILA WINERY

What varieties of grapes are grown in San Diego?

There are more than 60 varieties of grapes grown commercially throughout San Diego County. The region has more distinct microclimates than any other single county in the United States with its coastlines, canyons, mesas, mountains, deserts and waterways.  This allows San Diego winemakers to grow a wide variety of grapes, including:  Aglianico, Albariño, Aleatico, Alicante Bouschet, Arneis, Assyrtiko, Barbera, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Cinsault, Corvina, Fiano, Greco, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Malbec, Marsanne,  Merlot, Mission, Molinara, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Muscat Blanc, Mucat Canelli, Muscat of Alexandria, Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Orange Muscat, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Picpoul Blanc, Picpoul de Pinet, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Primitivo, Red Concord, Refosco, Riesling, Rondinella, Roussanne, Ruby Cabernet, Sagrantino, San Genovese, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Symphony, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo, Terodelgo, Tokay, Trebbiano, Vermentino, Viognier, White Concord and Zinfandel.

What styles of wine does San Diego produce?

Since San Diego’s wine scape is composed of small, independently-owned wineries, there is a great deal of experimentation in winegrowing here, both in grape variety selection as well as the styles of wine produced. Locally, one can find white, red and rosé wines (both dry and off-dry), sparkling wines and various dessert wines, including port-style and sherry-style. Local wines may be made from a single grape variety or, in many cases, blends of a number of different grapes. Many of the wines are produced using sustainable practices and there is even a fully-certified organic local wine. Additionally, there are a variety of excellent fruit wines produced here as well as a delightful honey-based wine.

What is the best time of year to visit?

San Diego County is gorgeous all year round! Summer is a bit more crowded with visitors but the vineyards are in full bloom. Fall is a great time to visit, too, if you want get in on the harvest action.

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IMAGE COURTESY OF SDCVA

How do I go about planning a day for a large group in wine country?

First, select a wine tasting route using our interactive San Diego Day Trips map. Next you will want to check with each winery on the route for their group policy. Some may require reservations, depending on the size of your group.

What about major holidays?

Generally wineries are closed on major holidays (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Easter Sunday) and are open with regular hours or, in some cases, by appointment year round. If you’re planning a trip around the holidays, we encourage you to call the wineries or the visit the websites of the wineries you are interested in visiting before heading out.

Where in San Diego are the wineries and tasting rooms?

Wineries and tasting rooms can be found throughout the County. Check out our interactive San Diego Wineries map to see the various locations and how to get there.

What should I wear to the wineries and vineyards?

San Diego’s wine country is a land of many microclimates, and depending on the time of year, it can change slightly as you move from east to west. Most months the weather will be warm. The evenings can be chilly fall through spring, so we recommend dressing in layers. Nights are generally cool so a wrap and light jacket will keep you comfortable. In San Diego casual to dressy can be appropriate in the evenings.  San Diegans have a truly “chill” approach to clothing styles. It won’t be unusual to see someone in a cap and jeans next to someone with rhinestones and heels.  Come as you are and enjoy!

How do I find what varietals each winery produces?

Generally, each winery lists the wines they produce on their websites. See the full list of San Diego wineries here.

Tasting-events

IMAGE COURTESY OF THE SDCVA

I live out of state – can I bring wine home?

Purchasing wine after your visit is the perfect way to take your San Diego wine experience home. New airline restrictions require all liquids to be checked within luggage. Buying a case box shipper allows you to properly secure your wines and check it as luggage – some wineries have those available to purchase at the winery. You may also consider having your purchases shipped home by the winery. Depending upon where you live will help determine the best option for you as each state has different shipping regulations. You might also consider joining wine clubs at your favorite San Diego wineries for future discounts and easy shipping to your home or office.

What does a wine tasting cost?

The cost of wine tasting varies, depending on the winery you are visiting and the wines you are tasting. Fees generally range from $4 per person to $25 per person for a tasting.

I want to carry San Diego wines in my store/restaurant. How do I identify what’s available in my market?

If you are looking for a specific wine, we encourage you to contact the winery directly to inquire about distribution in your area. For general information about prices and availability, contact the San Diego County Vintners Association (www.sandiegowineries.org) For a list of wineries, wines produced and contact information, visit the list of San Diego Wineries.

Does the SDCVA offer classes and seminars on wine making and the business of wine?

Yes, we offer workshops, classes and seminars throughout the year.

There are also a number of educational programs to choose from –

How can I get more involved in San Diego’s wine community?

The first step is to join the SDCVA or come to one of our events. We welcome wine enthusiasts and winemakers alike!