By Miriam Raftery
Photo, left: Ramona Ranch Winery's winemaker is cheered by news that wineries and vineyards can now reopen to visitors.
June 26, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Wineries are reopening across our region, after three months of curbside-only services due to COVID-19. Some owners have been hard-hit by the economic loss, but now welcome the opportunity to welcome back visitors.
Now you can once again enjoy sipping wine on a mountain patio overlooking vineyards or in an urban tasting room. Some are offering food pairings, special sales and other incentives to welcome back visitors – with social distancing and other changes per state health rules.
Wine Works in La Mesa is reopen for wine flights as well as sangria and passionfruit wine slushies. Reservations are recommended. San Pasqual Winery’s tasting room in downtown La Mesa is also reopen with table service and a “Summer fun” special offering 50% off three bottles eacho f Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Rose of Cab Franc and CHeninc Blanc.
Hatfield Creek is offering flights of award-winning wines along with sparkling wines by the glass. The winery reopened on June 12, and the owners posted on Facebook, “It was like all the enophiles were lined up at a starting gate, the bell went off and you all charged through! We were quite overwhelmed….We thank you for your enthusiasm, support and patience.” For those who want to take home six bottles, you can also get a 15% discount and a patriotic “United We Sip” tote bag.
At Maness Vineyards Estate and Casi Cielo (“Almost Heaven” Farms in Jamul, wine flight tastings now include white, fruit and red wines served with dark chocolates, local chesses, gourmet jellies and crackers. Sangrias are also available, along with discounts for military, veterans and first responders. On the 4th of July weekend, the winery will be unveiling an 8 and a half foot American flag to show patriotic spirit. Guests can also see farm animals ranging from alpacas to goats.
Ramona Ranch Winery made it through quarantine with creative marketing strategies such as “Day Drinking with Winemaker Micole” featuring virtual wine tastings online and pairings to go. The winery’s patio tasting room reopens today, with two new wines to savor – a Sangiovese “Wild Rose” rosé and an Aglianico wine.
Vineyard Grant James, voted #2 winery in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure magazine, has also reopened its patio tasting room for wine flights, bottle sales, and wine by the glass. The winery will also host its first i-person event for wine club members since the pandemic shutdown wineries statewide, with foods to complement wines available by reservation only to members.(During the shut-down, the winery offered drive-through pickups of wine bottles and a boxed lunch from a local restaurant, drawing hundreds of guests.)
While many wineries have reopened, some have shorter hours and many recommend reservations, due to capacity and social distancing limits. Expect to wear a mask when not at your table, and some may offer only wines by the glass or flights, not full tastings. Bar areas may remain closed at some facilities, and others are still limited to curbside pickup. So be sure to check with individual wineries or winery associations, such as the Ramona Valley Vineyards Association, which has a list of Ramona wineries including hours and details.
You can find a list of all local San Diego County wineries in our "Local Farms" directory here: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/our-guide-local-farms-and-farm-fresh-...
Miriam Raftery, editor and founder of East County Magazine, has over 35 years of journalism experience. She has won more than 350 journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Press Club, and the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Her honors include the Sol Price Award for responsible journalism and three James Julian awards for public interest reporting from SPJ’s San Diego chapter. She has received top honors for investigative journalism, multicultural reporting, coverage of immigrant and refugee issues, politics, breaking news and more. Thousands of her articles have appeared in national and regional publications.
East County Magazine gratefully thanks the Facebook Journalism Project for support through its COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program to help make this reporting possible. #FacebookJournalismProject. You can donate to support our local journalism efforts during the pandemic at https://www.EastCountyMedia.