Locals call it the “Big O” — aka Orfila VIneyards and Winery, gently nestled in the beautiful San Pasqual Valley near Escondido in northern San Diego County. Whenever I’m in the area, I love to stop in and visit Orfila Vineyards and Winery. I’ve been a wine club member here on and off for over 10 years for a good reason. The wines are constantly improving and, my palette is ever evolving.
The vineyards here have existed since the early 1970’s, initially planted by San Pasqual Winery and later managed by Thomas Jaeger Winery.
In 1993, the 70-acre wine estate, was purchased by Proprietor Ambassador Alejandro Orfila of Argentina. Being a fourth generation descendant of wine makers, Orfila certainly understood the wine business. And, founding winemaker Leon Santoro, certainly understood what it took to make outstanding wines!
Classic wine growing conditions prevail in the San Pasqual Valley with the cool ocean breezes and morning fog, making this a perfect area for Rhone-style wines!
Today, over 40 acres are planted in Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Montepulciano, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane. Current Wine maker Justin Mund from Sonoma County is expecting his first vintages at Orfila Vineyards and Winery this year. Pretty exciting stuff!
The warehouse-themed tasting room adorned with dozens of international flags with wine barrels lining the walls, is not flashy or grand and can become quite noisy.
But the gift shop makes up for it with the fun wine-themed novelty gifts and good deli selection of picnic foods. Begin your tasting with the 2011 Estate Lotus, a heavenly blend of Viognier and Marsanne, crisp and citrusy with hints of grapefruit, melon and apricot. The 2011 Benign Neglect Montepulciano, an Italian varietal red grape, with luscious blueberry and black cherry undertones is also highly recommended. End your tasting on the patio overlooking the vineyards with Orfila’s 2010 Estate Syrah, an old-time hearty favorite.
There is also a tasting room in the mountains of Julian which is very laid-back and quaint. It resembles an old country store and has an excellent gift shop. Orfilia Vineyards and WInery is the perfect venue for weddings, parties and picnics or for just plain relaxing! www.orfila.com