When you think of enjoying wine, do you only think about the complexity, the fruitiness, the tannins, or the color? How about where you’re enjoying the wine- the setting, the surroundings, especially if it’s outdoors? San Diego County currently boasts about three dozen wineries and each is unique. Here are some great winery patios where hospitality, good wine, good food and al fresco ambiance.
Cordiano Winery- It’s just up from Escondido on Highland Valley Road. This hidden paradise boasts a huge terra cotta patio with panoramic views of San Pasqual Valley. Dazzling sunsets and a serene setting allow you to unwind with a bottle Syrah or Sangiovese. Winery owner Gerard Cordiano, has previously owned a variety of Italian restaurants in San Diego. He brings his passion for pizza and the most amazing bread sticks, brushed with olive oil, herbs and parmesan cheese, to his patrons. An adobe pizza oven graces the patio where he will create a pizza to order. The Cordiano family makes you feel like a part of their family. Enjoy Sunday afternoon on the patio, or play a game of bocce ball. Call ahead so they can have a pizza waiting for you with your favorite bottle of Cordiano wine. 15732 Highland Valley Rd. Escondido.
Salerno Winery- It’s all about family, friends and music at this Ramona Winery owned by Rose and Herman Salerno. Sundays are an especially fun day around the adobe ranch house. Sit at one of the many tables on the patio, next to the trickling fountain, amid the vines and taste some of Herman’s finely crafted wines. Herman, besides being the winemaker is a former Italian opera singer. His outdoor kitchen features an adobe pizza oven where he makes pizzas in his while belting out a tune. A guitarist entertains wine tasters and guests on the patio. Some even sing karaoke, but don’t worry, it’s not required. Rumor has it that they have an Argentinean barbecue some afternoons too. 17948 Highway 67, Ramona.
Shadow Mountain Winery- Take the opportunity for beautiful drive through the backroads north of San Diego near Warner Springs over Sunshine Summit, at 3,400 feet above sea level, to arrive at this quaint and rustic adobe winery. Grab a bottle of one of their tasty wines and sit in one of the mismatched chairs under the giant oak tree next to the grape vines. Alexander McGeary makes tasty wines; one to try is the Smoky Cabernet that was harvested during the 2004 wildfires. You can taste the fire in this wine. Panoramic mountain views abound at this rural winery. You may just want to stay overnight in one of their two cottages, enjoy a continental breakfast in the morning and then, alas, return to reality. 34680 Highway 67, Warner Springs.
Hawk Watch Winery- Across the road and down a ways from Shadow Mountain winery is one of the newest wineries in San Diego County. Hawk Watch Winery is a lovely red barn with panoramic views of surrounding mountains. Relax in an Adirondack chair with a bottle of their traditional hand crafted wines. Watch the hawks or gliders taking flight from Warner Springs Gliderport. They are open only on weekends and would love for you to enjoy their slice of heaven. 27054 Chihuahua Valley Rd., Warner Springs.
Orfila Winery- On the road to the Wild Animal Park, this picturesque winery is undergoing a transformation with a new young winemaker. But the patio lined with grape arbors, dotted with wrought- iron tables and chairs and picnic tables boasts a magnificent view of the San Pasqual Mountains. You could bring a blanket and picnic basket and lounge on the lush, green grass also. Orfila is truly a calm and relaxing spot to enjoy a bottle of wine. You could even enjoy the concerts on the lawn. 13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido. www.orfila.com