Best San Diego Wineries
“Great wine requires a mad man to grow the vine, a wise man to watch over it, a lucid poet to make it, and a lover to drink it.” – Salvador Dali
California is renowned for its wineries. And one of San Diego County’s best-kept secrets is the growing community of amazing San Diego wineries and tasting rooms in the city’s foothills.
Book your Chauffeured Vineyard Adventure here>>
California’s wine history actually began in San Diego with Father Junipero Serra, founder of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Mission monks planted the first vines producing communion wines around 1778.
Today, there are well over 100 wineries in San Diego, scattered throughout the county, many boasting award-winning medals from some of the top wine competitions in the U.S.
Also read our guide on:
Best Temecula Wineries
Best Wineries in Valle de Guadalupe
How to choose which San Diego Winery to visit?
First of all, wine tasting should be a fun experience. Second, wines should be really good, and there should be a uniqueness about the setting. Urban wineries in San Diego have been producing some excellent wines AND have a fun atmosphere. There is something about wine tasting… even if it is just a day trip, you’ll feel like you are on vacation.
And even if you can’t visit right now, the good news is that wines can be ordered and either shipped or picked up curbside. Or you can join the California Wine Club, a fun way to broaden your tastebuds and experience new wines every month. Click here for details>>
When we can all venture back out (and we will again), here are our top 10 recommendations to get you started on your San Diego wine tasting quest.
Escondido/Highland Valley Wineries
Altipiano Vineyard and Winery
20365 Camino Del Aguilla, Escondido, CA 92025
Tasting Room Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Noon to 6 pm
Tasting Fee: $15 pp/5 wines. Premium: $35 with winemaker/7 wines with signature glass
Perched high above San Pasqual Valley, views from Altipiano’s Mediterranean tasting room and grounds are nothing short of spectacular. It was a trip to Southern Tuscany and Montepulciano, Italy that inspired owners Denise and Peter Clarke’s love for Italian wines.
Unbelievably the devastating 2007 San Diego wildfires actually made their dream a reality when avocado groves on their property burned. In 2008, they planted Brunello grapevines along with Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah varietals.
Denise is Altipiano’s award-winning winemaker and her reds, especially the Super Tuscan blend and Sangiovese are without a doubt the superstars of the winery. Visitors can taste Altipiano’s fine wines in the tasting bar, or our favorite, the colorful patio overlooking terraced gardens with some of the most glorious San Diego sunset views.
15732 Highland Valley Rd. Escondido, CA 92025
Tasting Room Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 11 am to 8 pm
Tasting Fee: $15pp/5 wines
Making wines in the Italian Old-World tradition only makes sense as Cordiano Winery owners Gerardo and Rosa Cordiano are first-generation immigrants from Southern Italy.
Located in Escondido with sweeping vistas of the mountains and vineyards, the family owned and operated winery not only specializes in an impressive menu of whites and bold reds, but in their gourmet pizzas as well baked, of no surprise, in an authentic wood-burning oven.
Italian wine and food couldn’t possibly taste better while sitting on their expansive outdoor patio taking in the view. But save room for some delectable homemade desserts like Tiramisu and Cannoli. This is also a popular wedding venue.
Domaine Artefact Vineyard & Winery
15404 Highland Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92025
Tasting Room Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday Noon to 5:30 pm
Tasting Fee: $15 pp/5 wines
We stepped out of Italy and into France as premier Rhône-style wines are the signature of Domaine Artefact. Named for Native American artifacts found on its picturesque Highland Valley estate, the winery is nestled between granite-studded ridges.
Co-owner and winemaker Mark Robinson’s whites, roses, and reds are magnificent as the elevation and unique microclimate moderated by cooling ocean breezes enable the French grapes to thrive here. Mark’s wife, Lynn produces organic olive oil from its 250 estate olive trees. Lastly, Domaine Artefact is also home to a family of animals which includes four “wine dogs,” horses, pigs, and chickens.
Speckle Rock Vineyards
16138 Highland Valley Road, Escondido, CA 92025
Tasting Room Hours: Thursday through Sunday Noon to 6 pm
Tasting Fee: $15 pp/5 wines
The tragic San Diego Witch Creek Fire of 2007 destroyed structures, farm equipment and 3,000 avocado trees of Duane and Clea Perrin’s 320-acre bucolic property. Duane wistfully proclaimed that the only figures left standing were the speckled boulders of granite.
Thus, the slogan “Born from the ashes, raised on the vine” became their inspiration, and vines were then planted on property. Today, their vineyards grow a myriad of red and white grapes. Of note: Falanghina, an ancient varietal originally cultivated on coast of Naples in Southern Italy is their flagship wine. It’s the one visitors come for and return for time and again. And also, for picture-postcard views from its outdoor patio along with their other award-winning varietals.
Winery in Julian
Volcan Mountain Winery
1255 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian, CA 92036
Tasting Room Hours: Thursday through Monday 11 am to 5 pm
Tasting Fee: $12 pp/6 wines
Nestled at the base of the 4,200-foot Volcan Mountain, the picturesque boutique winery, tasting room, and orchard is located just two miles from the heart of historic Julian. Here, Mike Hart and brother, renowned winemaker and co-owner Jim Hart of Temecula, have brought the family’s expertise and passion for hand-crafting great wines to the apple pie capital of the world.
Vineyards are planted with Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir, though the winery also produces a host of reds and whites from local and regional grapes. Visitors can taste these varietals in their rustic indoor tasting room or outdoors on Adirondack chairs that always beg us to come and “sit a spell.”
And yes, there’s even the award-winning, elegant Dolcezza Apple Wine and the sweet dessert Estate Pommier Wine produced entirely from estate-grown Julian apples. On the way, make sure you stop by in Julian for amazing apple pies.
Castelli Family Vineyards
17872 Oak Grove Road, Ramona, CA 92065
Tasting Room: By appointment only
Tasting Fee: $12 pp/5 wines
What began as a hobby for a Columbian soccer player and winemaker Nelson Pizzaro has become so much more. When Nelson and Cassie, daughter of Castelli Family Vineyard’s owner Mike Castelli were married at a nearby winery, Mike was inspired to plant vines on his own bucolic property.
Nelson became the winemaker in 2012, and in 2016, the winery opened for business. Though San Diego isn’t known for their Pinot Noirs, that didn’t stop Castelli in the least. In 2017, they produced their first Pinot with grapes from San Luis Obispo as estate grapes had suffered the intense summer heat. In 2018, they released their own award-winning estate Pinot. And they are both magnificent to say the least!
Tucked away in a private community in the scenic rolling hills of Highland Valley, Ramona, the winery has both an impressive indoor tasting cellar surrounded by wine barrels, as well as an outdoor patio with a large firepit overlooking the vineyards.
Milagro Farm Vineyards and Winery
18750 Littlepage Rd, Ramona, CA 92065
Tasting Room: Saturday and Sunday 11:30 am to 5:30 pm
Tasting Fee: $14 pp/6 wines
Set in a tree-lined pastoral setting in the rolling hills of rustic Ramona, Milagro is Spanish for “miracle.” The property boasts a working estate winery, organic farm, and orchard. Wines produced here are 100% estate grown.
The philosophy of owners and venerable Valle de Guadalupe winemaker, Hugo D’Acosta is to be in harmony with the land and capture the essence of their own terroir. From Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to Rose and Super Tuscan reds, Milagro’s award-winning wines are truly fantastic.
A re-designed indoor tasting room features a more modern architectural style and outdoor patios provide picturesque views of the countryside, lake, and vine-covered buildings. It’s no wonder Milagro is such a popular wedding venue. The family-friendly winery also features live music every other Saturday.
Turtle Rock Ridge Vineyard Winery
18351 Woods Hill Lane, Ramona, CA 92065
Tasting Room Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am-6 pm. Other days by appointment.
Tasting Fee: $10 pp/5 wines
Located in the picturesque back country of San Diego County, Turtle Rock Ridge is named for the large granite monolith that towers over the vineyard. And yes, it looks just like a turtle.
With a selection of reds and whites, our favorites, hands down, are the velvety smooth port-style wine known as “Chocolate Turtle” and the magnificent Sangrias, both red and white, and perfect for a warm summer day.
There’s an indoor tasting room, though we and other visitors gravitate to the expansive outdoor patio overlooking the boulder-strewn vineyards. Cheese trays can be purchased to accompany the wines, and visitors are encouraged to bring in a picnic lunch should they choose to.
Beach House Winery
1534 Sleeping Indian Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Tasting Room Hours: Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. Other days/hours by appointment.
Tasting Fee: $15pp/6 wines
George and Kim Murray’s passion for making wine started as “garagasites” when they produced wine in the garage of their Oceanside home for self-consumption. In time however, it became more than a hobby. In 2010, they established Beach House Winery, the first vineyard/winery in the agricultural hills of Oceanside.
Their Vigna al Mare (Vineyard at Sea) property offers stunning vistas of the countryside. Wines here range from Chardonnay, Viognier and Rosé to Grenache and Petit Sirah. They’re renowned for their Beach Break GSM and sweet barrel-aged Late Harvest Merlot.
Rancho Bernardo Winery
13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte, San Diego, CA 92128
Tasting Room Hours: Daily 10 am to 6 pm
Tasting Fee: $16 pp/5 wines
Journey back through time while walking the grounds of Bernardo Winery, California’s oldest operating winery. Surrounded by a cluster of rustic charming shops, galleries and their own restaurant, The Kitchen at Bernardo Winery. The property also hosts a Friday Farmer’s Market and seasonal art and craft shows.
Ambience is king here and while the inside tasting room is lovely, we can’t beat sitting outdoors, listening to live music or strolling wine in hand through the historic village surrounded by antique winemaking equipment.
Family owned and operated since 1927 by the Rizzo family, the Southern California winery has been growing and producing wine in the same Italian tradition for three generations. Our favorites? Viognier, a slight deviation from the classic Rhone, and their Merlot Reserve.
San Diego wineries are amazing. I am amazed by the love and passion these winemakers have for their craft. You can taste it in their wines. I have to admit that living in Italy and traveling a lot has turned me into a bit of a wine snob, but let me tell you, the San Diego wine region measure up with some of the best wines I have ever had.
So whether you are in San Diego for a short visit or live here, try some of the local San Diego wineries and expect to be impressed.
Best San Diego Wineries – Pin for Later:
Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Anastasia Rybina
These wineries look amazing. I had no idea. I really want to visit San Diego now.
Don’t forget the wineries in East County San Diego. There are six very nice wineries in the home wool and surrounding area with four on the Lyons Peak Wine Trail.
Check out Rustic Ridge vineyards. Six varietal wine tastings are only $15. Would love to see y’all
You missed the second oldest winery in San Diego. Located in Julian at the foothills of Volcan Mtn. They have an expansive picnic grounds. Kid and dog friendly. Amazing wine, views and owners. You won’t want to leave. They are open 7 days a week.
1150 Julian Orchards Dr, Julian, CA 92036
Noreen L Kompanik
Hi Bree, I’ve reached out to them in the past but didn’t get a response. I know it’s been a tough year, but I need to be able to taste and experience to include them in an article. But, thank you for the suggestion as I know we will be adding more down the road. Cheers!
I am contacting you to invite you to please try our wines here at Cactus Star Vineyard at Scaredy Cat Ranch in Ramona. I just found your article on some of the local wineries and was hoping you could put us on your list!!!
Thank you and thank you for promoting all of us.
Anyone with a thing for motorcycles will want to pop into this family-owned and operated boutique winery in Temecula Valley. Not only can you taste exquisite small production wines made from viognier, zinfandel, malbec, syrah, and proprietary blends while learning about the family s commitment to quality farming, you can also tour their on-site collection of vintage motorcycles. Owner and winemaker Damian Doffo has even created a line of MotoDoffo wines, each featuring original artwork commissioned from some of the motorcycling world s most renowned artists.
For a lovely Wine Country picnic setting, pack up some provisions and head to Orfila Vineyards and Winery in Escondido. This 70-acre estate located in the San Pasqual Valley on a 10,000-acre agricultural preserve features gorgeous grounds, a rose garden and grape arbor, and plenty of shaded tables to sip wine while picnicking and taking in San Diego s idyllic year-round weather. The estate is only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 500 feet, which equates to cool ocean breezes and morning fogs that create optimal grape growing conditions. The result is a portfolio of wines made from estate and local grapes that have garnered over 1,000 domestic and international awards. Orfila also has a tasting room in Oceanside, if the beach vibe is more your speed.