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The history of SoCal’s Wine Country dates back to the 1700s. That’s when Father Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary, established the first vineyard in what would become San Diego.
Over the centuries, the area has witnessed record growth. Today, different cultures and microclimates define Southern California’s grape growing and winemaking scene. These can be divided into sub-regions.
Where’s the best winery to start? Here’s our comprehensive guide to the best wine tours.
1. Steeped in California Wine History
Located in Rancho Cucamonga, east of Los Angeles, Galleano Winery is the perfect place for history enthusiasts. Before Prohibition, Domenico Galleano crafted vintages in his basement.
Today, the family tradition continues. You may be lucky enough to see Domenico’s great-grandson, Don, who has plenty of fantastic stories about the property and its vibrant history to share.
You can taste many high-quality varietals grown from locally-sourced grapes such as Grenache, Alicante Bouchet, Zinfandel, and more.
2. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Are you the kind of wine taster who wants plenty of great eats to pair with beverage treats? If so, there’s no better stop than Mama Rosa’s Trattoria at Robert Renzoni Vineyards located in the Temecula Valley.
While tasting some of the winery’s expertly-crafted wines, you’ll also have the opportunity to dive into delectable cuisine, from pizzas and pasta to salads and sandwiches.
Menu items prove a natural complement to the lovely bottles made using Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Vermentino, and pinot grigio grapes. You’ll enjoy this multi-sensory spectacle while soaking in the area’s incredible scenery from the patio.
3. Head for the Hills
Soak in picturesque mountain views on a visit to the Volcan Mountain Winery located in idyllic Julian. An hour east of San Diego in the Cuyamaca Mountains, this winery is owned by the Hart family (renowned for their Hart Winery in Temecula).
The winery got its start after the 1870s Gold Rush, and its most popular wines come from estate-grown pinot noirs and pinot gris. It also sources from vineyards in Temecula Valley and San Diego.
Besides traditional varietals, Volcan Mountain Winery grows 18 different varieties of apples. It boasts three types of apple wines, which can be tasted and purchased along with the winery’s more traditional offerings.
4. Wine Cave Lovers
You’ll find La Finquita (“the Little Farm”) Winery and Vineyard in San Diego’s Ramona Valley. Charlie and Jess Koehler own the eight-acre property, a must-see because of its fabulous wine cave.
La Finquita creates bottles purely from San Diego county grapes such as Tempranillo, Syrah, Grenache, and petit verdot. Its stunning wine cave sits within the side of a hill beneath the winery’s tasting room.
This winery has a medieval chandelier, walls of wine racks, and the delicious aroma of wine. You’ll definitely fall in love with this unique spot.
5. Adventurous Wine Country
Located in California’s West Hills, Malibu Wines & Beer Garden features a stunning wine hike filled with spectacular natural scenery. Explore organic gardens, lush vineyards, and Chumash Native American cave paintings on the two-mile loop.
Other options for a wine tour include an offroading adventure and a laid-back VW van tour. There’s not a more charming spot for your next winery visit, so make sure you incorporate this lovely, eclectic location into a California staycation.
Unforgettable Southern California Wine Country Tours
There’s no better way to explore Southern California Wine Country than on a tour of some of the Golden State’s most celebrated wineries. From wine caves to apple blends and offroading adventures, you’ve got plenty of incredible options.
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