Enjoy Holiday Cheer on the Ramona Wine Trail
by Susan Montgomery
If you want to get in the holiday spirit, visit the Ramona Valley Holiday Wine Trail during the first three weekends in December. Eighteen wineries are participating and offering all kinds of wine discounts, entertainment, special treats, and festive decorations.
I used to think of the Ramona Valley wine region as the best kept secret in San Diego County, but that secret is now out in the open as more wine lovers discover the beauty of this rustic, hilly area and the excellence of its wines. If you have not visited these wineries, now is the time. Most of these wineries are smallish and family-owned. Their owners have a commitment to gracious hospitality and exceptional wines.
During the Holiday Wine Trail weekends, which are sponsored by the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association, you can purchase a $10 passport which entitles you to a map of the wine trail, list of participating wineries, discounted tastings at $6 for six glasses, a keepsake holiday wine glass, and a small gift.
A friend and I recently visited Hatfield Creek Vineyards and Winery, one of the participating wineries. This charming boutique winery is offering a 12 percent discount on gift shop items, gourmet snacks and chocolate, hot mulled wine, and ½ off of a wine bottle purchase. During our visit, we enjoyed their wines and meeting friendly Eddie (see photo to right) in the tasting room who had many tales to tell us about the founding of this historic winery. The festive cork tree in the photo above is one of many gift items available at this winery.
We also visited Ramona Ranch Vineyard and Winery, a check-in spot for Holiday Wine Trail participants. Ramona Ranch is offering hand-crafted western holiday gifts and complimentary shipping on cases of wine. Every Sunday, the winery will offer live music in its welcoming setting and also live music on Saturday, Dec. 15. This compassionate winery is also supporting a local non-profit animal rescue, “Saving Animals & Healing Hearts,” with a wish list to help local animals. The winery will be a donation spot for this worthy cause. Be sure to try Ramona Ranch’s delicious Bourbon Barrel Syrah.
We spent quite a while savoring some excellent wines at Vineyard Grant James, which will have live holiday music every weekend, along with holiday gift vendors, winemaker bottle signings, and a special port and Chinato tasting and release. This is a beautiful winery with picturesque views, the perfect spot to stop and savor the holiday spirit. Barbara (photo to right) was our delightful pourer during our visit. We particularly enjoyed a Bordeaux blend called Volantis and Aquarius, a unique blend of Petite Sirah, Merlot and Zinfandel.
But these are just three ideas about wineries to visit. For the complete list of participating wineries and what is going on at each one, go to http://www.ramonavalleyvineyards.com/hwt/ You can also purchase passports to the Holiday Wine Trail on this site.