If the perfect seventy-degree weather and constant dreamy ocean breezes get to be too much for you, then a trek inland is the thing to do. About 30 minutes outside of San Diego, near the city of Escondido, you will find the San Pasqual Valley, home of Orfila Vineyards and Winery.
Fifteen miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, Orfila bills itself as an “ultra-premium boutique winery nestled in the picturesque San Pasqual Valley.” Other than Orfila’s vineyards I did not see much of the San Pasqual Valley that I considered picturesque, but I had to remind myself that the region is still in the grips of a severe drought. The green leafy vines made the surrounding dusty, rocky hillsides look alien. Standing among the vines and looking at those dry hills was almost physically uncomfortable as the contrast was so shocking. Yet, these rocky hills boast excellent soil for wine, and Orfila capitalizes on the “vast potential for Rhône style wines, having determined that the soil conditions were similar to the Mediterranean region. More than 40 acres of the Orfila estate are now dedicated to Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Montepulciano, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.” Escondido tends to have a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and cool wet winters. Kinda perfect, right?
Whoever designed Orfila’s reception patio positioned it in the most perfect spot as we were drawn to it like magnets. We were armed with box lunches but immediately surrendered to the charms of the patio and to the fact that Orfila staff were already pouring a lovely little Pinot Blanc to start the tasting.
The temperature was in the eighties and climbing but a delicious breeze kept sneaking up the hill and blowing over the patio. Quite frankly, it was difficult to get up and leave when an informal vineyard tour began. Fortunately, we walked all of 100 feet and found ourselves among the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and the talk began…
A bright and energetic young man named Doug gave an informative yet lively vineyard talk, giving us all the fun facts without getting too steeped in details. You couldn’t help but notice how much Doug loved the place and he put us in all the best spots: in the shade of mature trees with undulating rows of cab sav vines as backdrop; smack-dab in the center of the winery’s hundreds of oak barrels all sleeping on their sides; on the best corner of that massive patio where that wonderful breeze kept nudging us and playing with our hair. We tasted six or eight wines, all good, but the standouts were the Pinot Blanc and the Sangiovese. A tip of the glass to winemaker Justin Mund who, as Doug tells it, splits his time between wine-making and surfing.
This winery tour was a very laid back affair and, to my mind, perfect. We were never hurried and took our time enjoying the view and the breeze and the wine and the cheese.
Click here to learn all about Orfila.