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).
Like his father, the former governor of the Argentinian state of Mendoza, Alejandro Orfila chose a life of diplomacy. From 1946 until the early 80s, his various public service roles included Argentine Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States and Argentine Ambassador to Japan. But like his grandfather, a winemaker whose 1905-established winery stands to this day, Alejandro harbored a lifelong love of viticulture. In 1994, Alejandro finally pursued that passion by founding Orfila Vineyards & Winery, a 70-acre hillside estate nestled within a 10,000-acre agricultural preserve in the San Pasqual Valley.
These days, winemaker Justin Mund oversees production on the estate, where grapes grow only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Using both the estate's grapes and others from the California coast, Justin crafts wines that have earned more than 1,300 medals in national and international competitions since the winery's founding. Guests can sample said wines in a tasting room overlooking the estate, as well as a second located at the Wynola Farms Marketplace in Julian. Besides tastings, Orfila hosts events ranging from live concerts to the annual Grape Stomp festival, where folks gather to watch traditional wine-making and grapes gather to hold their annual Shirley Jackson-esque lottery.
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.
Welcome to the Desert's Wine Shop. We search for exceptional handcrafted wines and personally taste and pick each one that we bring in to your wine store. We are committed to bringing you the very best selection of artisanal wines, small production wines, and undiscovered gems as well as everyday wines.
Cuisine Type: Estate-grown Bordeaux and Italian wines
Reservations: Not offered
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera
Outdoor Seating: Yes
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
Our 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was named San Diego County's Best Wine at the 2012 Del Mar Fair state wine competition. The 2010 Barbera is a multiple gold medal winner including in national and international competitions. The Aleatico is a dessert port-style wine that is perfect for the holidays served with dark chocolate.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Our tasting room is open for tastings Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am-5pm, and includes an extensive gift shop, estate grown olive oil, and views of the state of the art winery. We have a limited food menu but welcome you to bring a picnic.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery offers a wide selection of red and white varietal wines, all estate grown in Ramona, CA. The varietals grown are typically Bordeaux style like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc; or northern Italian style like Barbera, Sangiovese and Aleatico. The farming methods used are sustainable.
Nature plays a central role in the lives of the McClellans. As avid gardeners, they relish plunging their hands into the dirt and planting new seeds, especially those for Rhone grape vines. Yet even as the owners of Highland Hills Winery, tending the vineyard isn't their only means of communing with nature. Local coyotes and birds of prey from the on-site lake help to keep rodents away from the vines and occasionally feed on the grapes, giving the signal that everything is ready for harvest. As a gesture of thanks, the coyote and the surrounding Ramona Grasslands are featured on the labels that adorn Highland Hills' six wines. These barrel-aged styles range from a rich, fruit-forward petit syrah to a bright and citrus-tinged blended white. Every Saturday and Sunday, they're available for sampling in a climate-controlled, ADA-approved tasting room that's furnished with iron cafe tables and cushioned chairs.