The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Ramona Valley vineyards growing in own, unique way

A wine country in San Diego?  After a series of patchwork plots and crazy-in-love individuals making a hundred or so cases of their favorite varietals all over San Diego County, you might just be able to say, there is the makings of a wine country in these here parts. 
Weirdly enough California’s wine making began with the Franciscan fathers in San Diego in the 1700s.  Spanish explorers built a string of missions from San Diego north, all with vineyards.  After historic bouts with phylloxera diseases in the 1880s and prohibition in the 1920s, most of the wineries of note finally settled in Napa and Sonoma. 
In San Diego County, there were pockets of vineyards, largely disregarded  as serving only family and friends.
Two life-changing events have recently occurred that have lifted San Diego County’s Ramona Valley into the light of day.  In January 2006, the area of some 89,000 acres was designated as the Ramona Valley Viticultural Area, based on its “unique microculture, terrior and history of grape production.”  The area surrounds the town of Ramona. There are about 50 vineyards and 16 wineries doing business.  This is only the second “AVA” in this county and the third in Southern California.
The other event, a “Boutique Wine Ordinance” approved last year by  the county, allows, and would make it easier, to offer public tasting rooms in the area’s wineries  for the public to “try before they buy.”  After a flurry of objections from environmentalists, it finally was written into the books a few months ago.
At an average elevation of 1,400 feet and rainfall of some 16.5 inches per year, the Ramona area is well suited for quality wine grapes. 
Rose and Herman Salerno’s first vintage was 2002, made in the garage of their adobe home in the hills of Ramona. They had been making wine for their personal use 18 years prior.  They proudly point to their tasting room as a “godsend” for their business which makes some 12 wines, including a 2007 Lagrein Red ( $32 wine club price).
Ninety cases have been made.  It’s an Italian wine from the slopes of the Alto Adige Alps.
You’ll enjoy the mineral-rich mouth feel  of very high quality.
And while you’re tasting, you can coax Herman into a game of Bocce Ball.  Herman has two courts on the property.  Tasting hours are from 11 a.m. to sunset. Salerno Winery is closed Monday and Tuesday.
Other wineries of note in the Ramona Valley and vicinity include Hacienda de las Rosas, Lenora, Woof ‘n Rose, Cordiano, Mahogany Mountain, Pamo Valley, and in nearby Warner Springs, Serenissima.
For more on Ramona Valley Vineyards and Wineries, see
Another Look at Las Vegas
Vegas watchers never had it so good these days.  For starters, the space-age City Center, built by MGM Grand on 67 acres between Bellagio and Monte Carlo for nearly $9 billion, has six hotels and condo towers, with 4,000 more rooms to fill on the Las Vegas Strip. 
Also pitching for customers are 17 restaurants and nice bars in one hotel alone, ARIA.
To its credit, fine wine dining has never been better in this scintillating city.  This is partly due to the caliber of nationally known chefs that have descended on finely appointed dining rooms in the upscale hotels. 
It was started by Wolfgang Puck a number of yards ago.  The latest big celebrity chef in town is Michael Mina with no less than five restaurants including American Fish at ARIA. 
If you’re looking for star-power at your table, try actress Eva Longoria’s new Beso Steakhouse in Crystal’s, the high-end retail dining and entertainment center that fronts City Center and is currently showing an Elvis Presley Tribute by Cirque du Soliel.
Start by visiting
Wine Bytes
— The newest Dining Out San Diego, the free glossy magazine with all you need to know about the area wine and dine scene, is due out this week.  It can be picked up in most fine dining establishments.
— The University of San Diego Wine Classic is July 24 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the USD Garden by the Sea Center.  It raises money for scholarships.  $75 admission.  Visit
— 57 Degrees Wine Bar in San Diego has a Classic Regions and Varietals Event July 26 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. $40 per person with seminar.  Call (619) 955-8884.
— A Gondola Wine Tasting is featured at Loews Hotel Coronado July 27 and every Wednesday through summer, from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.  Cost is $45 each.  Details at (619) 429-6317.
— North County Wine Company in San Marcos celebrates its first anniversary with wine events July 29 through July 31. A “Big Gun” tasting highlights Friday from 4 to 9 p.m.  Cost is $15.  Get more information at (760) 744-2119.
— PAON Restaurant in downtown Carlsbad presents a Chateau Montelena Winery Dinner July 27.  Four course gourmet menu with five glasses of one of Napa Valley historic wines.  RSVP at (760) 729-7377.
— V.Sattui Winery in St. Helena, Napa Valley, has its outdoor annual Festa Italiana, July 30 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.  Music, huge amounts of Italian food and Sattui Wines that were recently awarded 2011 Winery of the Year.  All for $79 each. Call (707) 963-7774 for tickets.

1 comment

April & Gary October 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm

We love making little trips to Ramona and all over San Diego County where we enjoy visiting the more than 25 wineries (including Herman and Rose at Salerno) and taste some of the amazing and very resonably priced wine that is made in San Diego County.

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