The unsuspecting wine valleys of SoCal are surprisingly the perfect blend of rich soil, dry climate, and diverse terrain—all things that add up to a flawless growing environment for delicious wine varietals. Temecula, Ramona, Oceanside, and Escondido are all under an hour’s drive from downtown San Diego, making this Southern California destination a fantastic place to do some fun, flavorful wine tasting. We’ve curated a list of vineyards and the best San Diego wineries for you to try out on your next trip.
Callaway Vineyard & Winery, Temecula
Callaway Vineyard & Winery is Temecula’s first-ever winery—founded in 1974. From the gorgeous rolling hills to the award-winning tastes of red, white, and sparkling wine, it’s no wonder that Callaway is a sought-after destination for weddings and special events. Find a seat out on the terrace at sunset and watch the sun dip behind the mountain peaks as you sip on a glass of bubbly Bella Rosé with your partner or group of friends.
Europa Village, Temecula
A walk around the entrancing grounds of Europa Village will transport you to the European countryside. This wine resort boasts two separate wineries with a third coming in 2023. C’est La Vie offers French wine and culinary delights while Bolero highlights Spanish flavors with authentic wine, tapas, and the additional pairing of live flamenco music. Finish your trip with a visit to the boutique and grab a bottle of your favorite wine or signature EVOO made on site.
Beach House Winery, Oceanside
If you’re looking for a wine-tasting spot with panoramic ocean views, Beach House Winery is the place to be. Just under an hour north of downtown San Diego, this award-winning, Oceanside gem is a must for your vacation. Perfecting the growth and production of California grapes, it also sources grapes from well-known regions of California—including the Petit Sirah harvested from Sonoma County that has won two gold medals for “Best Petite Sirah” and “Best of Dry Creek Valley AVA” from Toast of the Coast Wine Festival.
Leoness Cellars, Temecula
Book a wine tour and wander the picturesque property of Leoness Cellars where you’ll feel as if you’re in the coveted Napa Valley without the hype and steep prices of NorCal wine country. Along with a commitment to producing the highest quality fruit, the staff provides exceptional service—each member having undergone extensive sommelier training—and will educate and dazzle you while you taste the flavors of award-winning varietals and blends. Don’t forget to reserve a table at The Restaurant—awarded “Best Winery Restaurant” by USA Today—offering classic French cuisine and the perfect wine pairings.
Mermaid Valley Vineyard, Ramona
The Mermaid Valley Vineyard is one of San Diego’s more modern vineyards, established in 2013. The winery boasts ample indoor and outdoor seating with an expansive view of the grapevines and spectacular mountain range as its backdrop. Featuring 100% estate-grown grapes, varietals include various zinfandels, merlots, syrahs, and the 2018 Siren’s Song that was recognized this year as the “San Diego County Wine of the Year.”
Bernardo Winery, San Diego
Just 30 minutes north of downtown, near Rancho Bernardo (hence the name), lies Bernardo Winery. With three generations worth of Italian roots, this spot offers world-famous pizza and Sicilian tapas along with their delightfully delicious wines. Although not a vineyard itself, Bernardo Winery sources grapes locally and focuses on making wine with a blend of traditional methods and new technology. Indulge in an oaky, nutty chardonnay or perhaps pair your margherita pizza with a classic merlot—exposing notes of cardamom and black cherry.
Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards, Temecula
With over 70 acres of vineyards and manicured grounds, Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards will greet you with an instant sense of calm. With tall palm trees, a small creek, inviting outdoor seating, and welcoming tasting room, you’ll feel swept away by the magic of this grandiose winery politely tucked into Temecula’s wine country. Year after year, Wilson Creek has won countless awards for their sultry wines such as the 2017 Vardande Red Blend and 2017 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Tour the vineyards and meet the leading winemakers of this SoCal wine valley.
Cordiano Winery, Escondido
Take in the sweeping views at Cordiano Winery. With its Mediterranean-style restaurant and tasting room, you’ll feel transported to Italy as you walk under the archways entangled in grapevines. Impress your tastebuds with a pairing of the winery’s 2015 pinot noir and a steaming plate of classic lasagna; or opt for a glass of the Tocco di Dolcezza, a California blend, with Cordiano’s black truffle pizza. If you’re really looking to treat yourself, have a glass of their Portofine (brandy wine) with a slice of house-made tiramisu and watch the sun go down from the valley-facing patio.
Cactus Star Vineyard, Ramona
This woman-owned, boutique winery boasts a small 1-acre plot of land in which the women grow and bottle on-site. The Cactus Star Vineyard estate—which is called Scaredy Cat Ranch—is one of the smallest wineries in Southern California with a small tasting patio. But don’t let its size deter you. The wines are brimming with rich and colorful flavors. One quirk to know about this place is that, due to limited wine availability, it is only open for tastings on a seasonal basis. Make sure you call ahead before making the trip—it’s worth it.
Oak Mountain Winery, Temecula
Boasting one of the most spectacular views in the Temecula Valley, Oak Mountain Winery is home to the only mined wine caves in Southern California. This means that the barrels of wine are stored inside of the mountain in what’s referred to as a “cave,” which is the most natural and efficient way to store and age wine at the appropriate temperature. Here you’ll find Mediterranean varietals including tempranillo, grenache, zinfandel, and the classic cabernet sauvignon. Reserve a table the Cave Café and dine underground for a truly unique wine experience.