The idea for California Fruit Wine was hatched in 2009, when a friend of Alan and Brian Haghighi introduced the twin brothers to small batches of homemade fruit wine. Since those first sips, Alan and Brian have continued to help wine drinkers break free from grape-based conventions, utilizing such fruit as pomegranates, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pumpkins as the foundation for an ever-growing arsenal of flavors. The winery fills glasses with unique bouquets, and?like the microbreweries throughout Vista Business Park?buys its ingredients from vendors up and down the west coast rather than growing them or stealing them from the refrigerators of napping bears. California Fruit Wine's spacious facility, which is stocked with a stage, bar, and pool table, can also be rented out for parties and private events.
Lifelong gardener Jim Carter, owner of South Coast Winery, bottles fine wines on 38 picturesque acres in Southern California’s Temecula Valley. South Coast’s grounds house a luxurious spa and seven Mediterranean-esque resort villas, reminiscent of a remote Tuscan village. Jim’s specialty varietals have been recognized time and again in local and national wine competitions. Visiting oenophiles can spend time here unwinding with an open air massage, vacationing in a temporary home equipped with a marble Jacuzzi and sweet plump grapes at arms length, or learning about the winemaking process on a vineyard tour.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist?s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host private parties, bridal events, corporate events, and private cooking classes. Events at The Wine Artist feature unique wines, gourmet catering, and experiences such as wine bottling and team building activities.
The "secret" in Bacchus' Secret Cellar is gas. Argon gas, to be exact, which powers the bar's preservation system and ensures that the wines within stay fresh for long periods of time. There are about 50 wines—mostly reds—on tap at the counter, as well as 8 sparkling wines, 5 dessert wines, and 12 microbrews. The library of options encourages guests to sample several, so it's wise to order a flight: you can get a signature array of 2.5-ounce glasses, or you can compose your own for a unique harmony of tastes.
The bar is just the beginning of the cellar's wine selection. On the shelves that span the walls, more than 350 labels beckon to be uncorked. A bistro menu provides gourmet food to complement sips, from starters of oven-roasted dates to lamb burgers and prosciutto flatbreads, made by dropping a regular loaf of bread into a printing press by accident. There's also a full menu of cheeseboards, with goat, cow, and sheep cheeses from the United States and abroad.
At this Zagat-rated restaurant, 24-year-old chef Jeremy Manley puts an adventurous spin on the California bistro, using an armory of locally sourced organic produce and seasonal ingredients from Julian, Ramona, Borrego Springs, and Valley Center. The ever-changing dinner menu regales diners with bison bratwurst from nearby Star B Ranch topped with speedway stout sauce blended with AleSmith beer and gouda cheese ($18). The california cheddar burger, like an avant-garde portrait of the Hamburglar, provides an exciting new look at the classic sandwich with its smooth coating of avocado butter, mango pico de gallo, crunchy prosciutto, and chipotle aioli ($15).
Orfila Vineyards and Winery sits on a picturesque hill 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. That means ocean breezes and morning fog, ideal conditions for growing wine grapes. Since 1994, the team has been harvesting fruit for an array of Rhone-style wines that has racked up more than 1,000 wine-competition medals and at least 3 deep nods of approval. Current vintages run the gamut from merlots to grapefruit-pink roses to summery whites.
Visitors can sample the wines at the winery's onsite tasting room?just outside San Diego, en route to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park?or stop by the second tasting room in the historic small town of Julian.