Food lovers rejoice: rather than traverse the town in search of a variety of cuisine, they can save time and shoe leather by attending the Valley Center Gourmet Food Truck Festival. The second annual culinary extravaganza—sporting a Hawaiian theme this year—features mouth-watering platefuls from food trucks such as Crepes Bonaparte, Dang Brother Pizza, and Hoangie's Bahn Mi, dished out alongside pours from Hess Brewing and California Fruit Wine. While adults enjoy of-age libations, youngsters can partake of activities including pony rides and face painting. Live music and DJ performances underscore each sip, swirl, and perfectly tuned bite.
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.
Approaching its 50th anniversary as a San Diego County staple, Holiday Wine Cellar offers a distinguished selection of craft beers, fine wines, exceptional spirits, and cigars. In addition to amenities such as an authentic underground wine cellar and a walk-in "beer cave", the family-owned landmark bottle shop offers samples at their self-serve wine bar, and also hosts weekly beer and wine tastings.
In 1927, after seven years of Prohibition, Vincent Rizzo had an idea. He would buy a winery. While this may have been an unconventional move, he knew he could get Bernardo Winery at a lower price and keep the business thriving with an unlikely product: olive oil. In a stroke of cunning and arguable genius, the first-generation Rizzo owner made use of the olive trees growing on his property, selling the cold-pressed virgin oil to many of the tuna canneries in downtown San Diego. He also continued production of sacramental wine and grape juice that was, according to the winery's website, "guaranteed to ferment by the end of the road."
The winery grew to be one of San Diego County's major wine suppliers in the late 1940s, and Vincent turned the family business over to his son, Ross, in 1962. Ross's passion and dedication fueled the winery's success until his passing in 2008. Ross Rizzo, Jr. now keeps his father and grandfather's legacies alive, adding new varietals and winemaking techniques to the company's repertoire while paying homage to the old ways. Ross still sources his grapes from local vineyards and produces and cellars his wine to develop each variety?s distinct flavor.
Guests can get a behind-the-scenes look at the historic winery during tours and tastings, and the scenic spot also hosts private parties at several outdoor venues and in the Barrel Room, where wooden rafters and huge redwood wine-storage vats create a rustic feel. Once they are done tasting, visitors can wander through a micro village of shops and studios or get a bite to eat at Cafe Merlot. The sprawling property features nods to its storied past with accents such as wagon wheels and an antique thresher machine and events such as grape stompings, otherwise known as do-it-yourself purple pedicures.
After a missionary trip in Bolivia, Anton Steinhart returned to the States dissatisfied. He’d helped poor women in Bolivia learn to use sewing machines so they could sell products in America and pull themselves out of destitution. But he returned to his home country only to see it riddled with its own poverty. He yearned to make a difference, but he couldn’t figure out how. All he had was a good heart. And years of experience in the wine industry.
Inspired, Steinhart moved with a sense of urgency. He founded Wines for Humanity, a wine-tasting company with a charitable bent. Since it was founded in 2007, the wine organization has raised more than a million dollars for families on the verge of homelessness through benefit wine tastings.
A catalog of wines sourced from award-winning international vineyards powers each in-home tasting led by a wine adviser. He or she shares tips for fully experiencing each pour’s aroma and texture, such as to avoid using wine only as rouge; the advisor also educates guests on pairing wine with food. After each event, tasters can select bottles for themselves, and a percentage of the proceeds from each bottle goes to charity, satisfying Steinhart’s desire to help those in need.
Twisted Vine Bistro's staff comprises a fifth-generation Italian vintner and two veteran California-born chefs who cultivate unpretentious epicurean experiences praised by Gayot and Thrillist. During tasting events, local winemakers mingle with guests and tie-dye tongues with fine red and white varietals, which tasters pair with locally sourced snacks from the eatery's menu. The topic of each cooking class rotates frequently, but all sessions allow amateur foodies to rub spatulas with classically trained chefs so they can finally ask an expert why their oven never seems to get their undershirts their whitest. Artwork forged by local artists decks the space, and elegant drapery pulls back to reveal ample windows, which stream sunlight onto green and orange walls.