As if San Diego wasn’t blessed enough with its stunning coastlines and unbeatable weather, the city is also home to a vibrant wine scene, not just in Temecula, where wineries abound, but throughout the region in urban wineries and tasting rooms. These are just three of the standout places to visit.
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa
The back-story of this world-famous winery — which has twice earned the title of California Winery of the Year — easily could be the plot of a movie (and in fact was inspired by one). As a young man, owner/vintner and native Ohioan Jim Carter worked as a builder, a trade that eventually lured him to California. He had his ah-ha moment when he saw A Walk in the Clouds, a movie set in a lush valley vineyard. By 1995, Carter had turned a 400-acre parcel of land near Palomar Mountain into his first vineyard. After that, he snapped up Rolling Hills and South Coast vineyards in Temecula, and the rest is history.
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa has won more than a thousand awards and produces wine under four labels: Elevation, South Coast Winery, Wild Horse Peak Mountain, and Carter Estates. The 38-acre resort features a restaurant, tasting room, spa, and 76 luxury villas for oenophiles who want to wile the weekend away.
Coming up: Check out South Coast’s “Fall into Spectacular” Spa Escape Package, which includes a midweek overnight villa stay, a bottle of SCW wine, and two 50-minute spa treatments for $439. The winery is also offering a “Spook-tacular” tour from October 26-31, a unique behind-the-scenes peek with special tastings ($45/person). (www.wineresort.com)
The most effervescent winery in Temecula, Thornton has made a name for itself with its wonderful sparkling wines — or California Champagnes — which come in classic brut styles and cuvee rouge as well as fruit-tinged flavors and Thornton’s famous almond bubbly. In addition to its tasting room, the winery also serves up French country-meets-contemporary fare at its Café Champagne, the only restaurant in the Inland Empire to snag a Golden Bacchus award.
Coming up: Thornton has a special Halloween-themed, costume tasting dinner on October 29 ($90/person), as well as an elegant winemakers dinner on November 12 ($95/person). (www.thorntonwine.com)
Located in Solana Beach’s artsy Cedros Design District, Carruth Cellars proves that you don’t have to be surrounded by acres of vines to produce some of the finest wines in town. This fully-operational boutique winery imports grapes from Northern California’s wine country. They’re crushed, pressed, fermented, barreled, aged, and bottled at Carruth’s urban facility, which also features a tasting room where you can sample California North Coast reds, along with Russian River Chardonnay and Lake County Sauvignon Blanc.
Coming up: Throughout October, which is “crush” season, you can swing by to help stomp the grapes at Carruth. Or visit on October 24 for movie night (6-9pm) and nosh on wood-fired pizza while sipping Carruth wines. (www.carruthcellars.com) ANNAMARIA STEPHENS
Carruth: Photography by Jon Robershaw
Additional photography courtesy of South Coast Winery Resort & Spa and Thornton Winery