Rashelica Winery -  Photo by Charlene Pulsonetti

Rashelica Winery - Photo by Charlene Pulsonetti

Raise a Glass To Ramona’s Budding Wine County

— Charlene Pulsonetti

Just an hour’s drive east of San Diego is a valley abundant with award-winning wineries and tasting rooms. Pairing breathtaking landscapes, passionate winemakers and bold flavors, Ramona’s wine country is quickly becoming a tasting destination.

An Ideal Climate 

More than 30 wineries are located within the region, which rose in popularity after the designation of the Ramona 
Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2006. 

Microclimates within Ramona — created by the altitude, sunshine, soil composition and diurnal shifts — are on the record for producing high-quality vintages.

“The Ramona AVA is quite large at 84,000 acres and therefore also encompasses many microclimates,” says Hatfield Creek Winery 
winemaker Elaine Lyttleton. “So while some might be high, dry and hot, those at the west end of the valley are more likely to be 
cooler and damper from the coastal marine influence.”

Winemakers — the Heart of the Region

With the AVA designation, wine-makers needed a way to share the fruits of their labor with the public. The allowance of boutique wineries in 2010 was the second key moment in the region’s history, allowing small wineries to open tasting rooms and avoid costly major 
use permits. 

After years of hard work from winemakers and their advocates, visitors and locals could finally enjoy the delicious wines being created in 
the heart of San Diego County. While “terroir” — the conditions in which a vine grows that then translate to the unique character of 
the final product — is one factor in making award-winning wines, it is the expertise of the winemakers that makes it all possible.

Winemakers’ passion for the craft and their efforts to enhance each tasting experience are evident in the inviting tasting rooms and friendliness of the hosts. Each location is unique, with many offering lush landscaping that attracts beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds, archaeological features or an impressive array of sculptures. Ask your hosts what’s special about their winery — they will be more than happy to fill you in!

Since the AVA designation, Ramona has become a rising star, with many wines competing — and winning — awards around the world, while stacked up against competitors who have been in the game for hundreds of years. 

More than Just Wine

Try a glass of handmade whiskey, cider or beer by a growing number of local artisans! From traditional iterations to visionary interpretations, there is more than one way to taste your way through Ramona.

The Future of Ramona’s Wine Industry

Bill Schweitzer, president of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association, is optimistic about the future of the region, with new wineries on the horizon and vineyards continually coming into maturity. 

“We grow wonderful grapes,” he says. “Our winemakers continue to learn how to use them to make great wine. It’s only going to get bigger, with outside recognition of the quality of Ramona wines and the growth of the direct-sale market.” 

For Ramona’s younger adults, growing up in an up-and-coming wine region offers an exciting opportunity to learn from the professionals right in their own backyard and align themselves with businesses that share their passions. Agriculture, tourism, education, marketing, chemistry and geology are all elements that make up the industry. It’s a chance to discover a fulfilling livelihood — one in which many enjoy expressing themselves to the fullest.

With these exciting prospects, there are plenty of reasons to return to the Ramona wine region and try something new — so come and enjoy a glass in the country!