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Ramona Ranch Winery. Photo via Facebook
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Taste of Wine: Ramona Ranch wins big at Harvest Challenge

Let’s put the spotlight on “here” in San Diego for some hot news out of nearby Ramona, where Ramona Ranch winery was recently rewarded with 2 gold and 2 silver medals at the Harvest Challenge Sonoma County International Wine Competition. 

Micole Moore and his wife Teri came to this lovely valley town in 2004 to make wine in a farm and agricultural setting. Ramona’s unique microclimate earned the area an AVA District Designation in 2006 where it now is home base for some 50 vineyards and 25 wineries. Moore focused on sustainability since the get-go. 

A visit will show wind-turbines, solar, owl boxes and an insectary for beneficial bugs and birds.  All this careful, responsible crafting of wines and the gold and silver wines followed.  Moore’s 2016 Super Tuscan ($45.) is one of them, blended with 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The winery is open for tasting Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 6 p.m.

Micole Moore produces mainly Mediterranean style balanced wines at his Ramona Ranch Winery
and vineyard near San Diego. Courtesy photo

Another winner was Jeff Runquist Wines of Amador County who won the Winery of the Year at Dan Berger’s International Wine Competition, one of 4 distinctions for 2019. Runquist was also Winery of the year at the California State Fair competition.  Try his Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, two of my personal babies. Learn more at

If you agree with me that family-owned winemakers make it right, then the biggest show of that talent is the 2020 Family Winemakers Tasting, Sunday, March 22 from 2 to 5 p.m. for the public, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Bing Crosby Hall. 125 wineries will be pouring, with wines like Justin, Keenan, Sojourn, Howell Mountain and Falkner.  Public cost starts at $55.00.  Go to  to purchasing tickets.

Another wine and food show you don’t want to miss is the Palm Desert Food and Wine Fest at the Gardens at El Paseo, Friday and Saturday, March 27th and 28th. Grand Tastings and celebrity chefs galore with more than 40 area restaurants and 60 + wines, beer and spirits.  For more information and pricing, see

Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars are back on TV and heading to Los Angeles with 15 front-runners from seasons past, duking it out with luscious and exotic dishes starting March 19 and every Thursday at 10 p.m. PDT on the Bravo network.

Silver Oak Wine Event at Parc Brasserie

Veteran restaurateur Garo Minassian has it figured out with Parc Bistro Brasserie on Bankers Hill, 5th Avenue in San Diego.  The décor is straight out of Paris and when he stages a wine dinner event it’s second to none.  This night he brought in Silver Oak’s 2015 Cabernet Sauvignons,  from the Alexander Valley and Napa Valley.

Both were served side by side with oven-roasted duck breast and duck confit, each with their own sides to compliment the food and the wines. Silver Oak, which only makes Cabs, has a younger brother, Twomey, who has an inventory of wines such as Pinot Noir and Merlot, to satisfy those palates.

Parc Bistro Brasserie on Bankers Hill San Diego, owner Garo Minassian, with Wine Warehouse rep Mattie Magnuson and Silver Oak Ambassador Quelene Slattery. Courtesy photo
Wine Bytes

• Il Fornaio in Del Mar is hosting 100 Years of Napa Wines in a special dinner Thurs. March 26 at 6:30 p.m.  Master Sommelier Gillian Balance will moderate. Celebrated wineries to taste include Beringer, Stag’s Leap and BV.  The mighty BV Georges de Latour 2016 will highlight the dinner.  It will be an unforgettable evening.  The price is $99.99 each.  RSVP your seats at 858-755-8876.

• A Hall and Walt Winery dinner is being planned at the San Diego Zoo Sat. March 21 from 6 to 9 p.m., at Albert’s Restaurant.  A four-course gourmet dinner will accompany these wines.  Each wine will be introduced by winemaker Megan Gunderson.  The cost is $82. per person.  Call in your RSVP at 619-718-3000.

• Capri Blu Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar in Rancho Bernardo/San Diego presents a Rodney Strong wine dinner with winemaker Olivia Wright with a five-course gourmet meal featuring Rodney Strong Sonoma wines. The date is Wed. March 18 at 6 p.m., the cost is $65. each guest.  Call soon at 858-673-5100.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Reach him at [email protected]