There is nothing quite like sipping on a perfectly flavorful glass of wine in the Southern California sunshine. California is one of the premier winemaking regions in the world - the state is well known for its beautiful vineyards and delicious blends. Tourists from around the world flock to the state for elegant wine tastings and romantic vineyard weekends throughout the year. Usually though, when we hear about California wine country, we think of Northern California and the world-famous wine regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley. While Northern California's wine country is undoubtedly spectacular - one of the best kept secrets in California are the equally fantastic Southern California wine regions.

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For those living around America's Finest City, world-class wine tastings are close by - San Diego locals need not venture across the state to enjoy a glamorous afternoon at the vineyard. In fact, San Diego County's very own Escondido is the perfect place to escape for an afternoon of drinking wine and making memories. 

Escondido wineries offer immaculately crafted wines with unique flavor profiles derived from the healthy soil in Southern California. Escondido is one of the oldest cities in San Diego County - its Spanish name translates to "hidden" in English. Although it is well known for it's vibrant arts and theater scene, it will only take one visit to the wine region to realize that you've discovered one of San Diego County's best hidden-gems.

Within 30 minutes of downtown San Diego, you'll be able to visit over 20 wineries with tasting experiences ranging from trendy urban wine cellars to breathtaking terraces over looking the vineyards. The intimate settings offer the opportunity to chat with vintners and learn about the wine making process. The vibrant downtown Escondido area is packed with things to do from mouthwatering restaurants to colorful shops and art galleries that line the streets.

Escondido is also home to the California Center for the Arts, which hosts live theater, music, museum exhibits, and educational programs. Whether you're a local looking for a romantic date idea, or a tourist who wants to experience everything San Diego County has to offer - it's well worth carving out some time in your schedule to visit Escondido and book a tasting at one of the award winning wineries.

The history of Escondido

Long before Spanish explorers and other European settlers set foot in Escondido, California, the land was inhabited by indigenous people who had villages scattered throughout the region, and lived closely with the land. Both the Kumeyaay and the Diegueno tribes called the area that is now Escondido home.

By the year 1776, the first Spanish explorers made their way to the region, including Juan Bautista de Anza, who is credited with discovering Escondido. According to experts, the growing of grapes in Escondido dates all the way back to the 1700's - some of the first grapes in California were grown here. Early settlers found the lush and the soil is rich - perfect for vineyards.

Later, the area was part of a land grant by the Mexican government. Eventually the land grant was acquired by the Escondido Land and Town Company in 1886. The land was laid out for a town and sectioned off into small farms that would grow grapes and citrus and eventually develop into the thriving wine region we know and love.

Types of wine grown in Escondido, California

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There are plenty of wonderful grape varieties grown within San Diego County. Some of the most famous wines produced include Chenin Blanc, Zinfandel, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, and Albarino. If you prefer classics like Cabernet Sauvignon or a refreshing rosé wines, don't fret - there is something to suit every taste on a visit to Escondido wineries!

Best wineries in Escondido to experience wine tastings near San Diego

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If you're excited to explore all of the Escondido wine region and sip some award winning wines, check out our list of some of the areas best wineries. With family owned wineries, hip urban tastings rooms, and a beautiful estate vineyard or two - there is enough to fill a day trip, a long weekend, or even an extended vacation in Escondido, CA.

Forgotten Barrel Winery

Forgotten Barrel Winery is a must visit spot on your wine tasting adventure in Escondido. It has a long-history as one of Escondido's oldest wineries. Enjoy a tour with the winemaker which includes a five-wine tasting, and try interesting blends like their unique blueberry wine. You can even see some of the antique wine making equipment that remains on the property from its original incarnation as Ferrara Winery in the 1920s. There is an indoor tasting room, as well as a spacious outdoor patio with vies of San Pasqual Valley.

Address: 1120 W 15th Ave, Escondido, CA 92025

Espinosa Vineyards

Espinosa Vineyards is a magical experience for wine lovers. Here, you can enjoy a flavorful glass (or a few wine bottles with friends) at a table under a canopy of Ponderosa Pines, while the sunlight streams through the branches. A visit to Espinosa Vineyards is perfect for a romantic date with a loved one, or an evening spent laughing with dear friends. You're welcomed to bring your own snacks or a picnic lunch. Reservations are encouraged.

Address: 15360 Bandy Canyon Rd, Escondido, CA 92025

Altipiano Vineyard and Winery

Altipiano Vineyard has a picturesque setting with an incredible patio that overlooks the vineyard. The entire place in reminiscent of a Tuscan villa, and you'll feel as though you've been transported to a faraway destination. Known for exceptional reds, Altiplano Vineyard and winery is the home of award winning winemaker Denise Clarke. She is San Diego County's only black and female winemaker whose passion for fine wine shines through in every sip.

Address: 20365 Camino Del Aguila Escondido, CA 92025

Hungry Hawk Vineyards

Hungry Hawk Vineyards Winery is a favorite spot for locals and tourists when it comes to enjoying a wine tasting in Escondido. The rustic tasting room overlooks the San Pasqual Valley offering beautiful views. The boutique winery is located on a 10-acre property and produces 15 varietals of grapes. Each year the grapes are used to create 25 different wines which can be sampled at the Estate Tasting Room.

Address: 3255 Summit Dr, Escondido, CA 92025

Speckle Rock Vineyards

Speckle Rock Vineyards is a family-owned winery that was once a thriving Avocado farm. After the devastating Witch Creek wildfire heavily damaged the avocado tress, the family decided to turn a tragedy into something beautiful. It was then that Speckle Rock Vineyards was born - named for the speckled granite boulders left behind after the fire which symbolize endurance after difficult times. Speckle Rock has produced award winning wines like their 2019 Talynlu and has a monthly wine club, perfect for wine lovers. Reservations are not required, but are encouraged.

Address: 16138 Highland Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92025

Belle Marie Winery

Belle Marie is a boutique winery in Escondido that is family-owned and operated. The French Chateau-style building resembles a fairytale castle and provides the perfect setting to enjoy a luxurious day of wine tastings. The property is 3.5 acres full of grapes and lush citrus groves, perfect for enjoying a walk or stopping for a picnic snack while you enjoy your glass of wine. We highly recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon!

Address: 26312 Mesa Rock Rd, Escondido, CA 92026

Orfila Vineyards and Winery

Orfila Vineyards and Winery is located on a 70-acre estate in San Pasqual Valley. The owner is none other than the Argentine Ambassador Alejandro Orfila. In addition the vineyard you can explore the beautiful rose gardens, or enjoy a meal from one of the food trucks at a picnic patio while you sip on an exquisite Rhode-style wine. Grapes are sourced from the estate and other California vineyards to create fabulous Italian and French varietals. Orfila Vineyards opened in 1994 and has won numerous awards over the years.

Address: 13455 San Pasqual Rd, Escondido, San Diego County, CA

Cordiano Winery

If you want to enjoy drinking fine wine in a fun and causal setting, head to Cordiano Winery. Cordiano Winery is a family owned and operated boutique winery that blends the tradition of the Old Country with the delicious California grown grapes. Owners Gerardo and Rosa Cordiano moved to New York City from Italy in the 1970's and eventually opened their own pizza chain throughout the Southern United States.

It only took one visit to San Diego in the 1990 to convince the family to move to Escondido. Gerardo and Rosa opened several successful restaurants throughout San Diego County, but Gerardo always dreamed of pursuing his love of winemaking. Finally, in 2000 that dream became a reality. He sold his restaurants and began growing wine. Cordiano Winery opened to the public in 2008. The friendly environment and warm hospitality delight visitors - and the thin-crust pizza and flavorful wines keep them people coming back time and time again.

Address: 15732 Highland Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92025