San Diego Wineries

Courtesy of Bernardo Winery

San Diego Wineries

When you think of California wine, you naturally think of the Napa wine region in Northern California. Then you think of the Central Coast wine country around Santa Barbara. And when you think of Southern California wine, you think of the nearby Temecula wine country. Much in the same way that San Diego has become a hotbed of craft breweries, San Diego County has it’s own community of wineries, making their own lovingly hand-crafted wines. Some have small vineyards, sprinkled throughout San Diego’s backcountry. If you’re a wine lover, you might want to discover some of these San Diego wineries.

Bernardo Winery

Located 25 miles north of downtown San Diego in Rancho Bernardo lies one of the best-kept secrets in the county. The Bernardo Winery is over 120 years old, the Bernardo Winery is still family owned and operated as a fully-functioning producer of wine made from the grapes from vines planted long ago. With more than 12 Village Shops, a coffee shop, a salon, an award winning cafe, and of course a tasting room, the Bernardo Winery is a must see. Wines Produced Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, White Riesling, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Port, Sherry, Muscatel.Tasting Room: Open Monday – Friday – 9am to 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am to 6pm. $8 for 5 tastes.

Orfila Vineyards and Winery

Orfila Vineyards & Winery is an ultra-premium boutique winery nestled in the picturesque San Pasqual Valley, approximately 30 minutes from San Diego. Orfila produces award-winning Rhone-style wines from grapes grown on hillside estate: Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier, White Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Rose of Syrah, Muscat Canelli & Tawny Port. The Tasting Room and Gift Shop are open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, where you can enjoy six wine tastings for $10 per person. Call (760) 738-6500 x 22 for more information.

Menghini Winery

Menghini Winery, located 3 miles north of downtown Julian, is nestled in the foothills of Volcan Mountain. Surrounded by apple orchards and a six acre vineyard, the winery produces approximately 4,000 cases of premium varietal wine annually. Wines Produced: Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. Hours: Monday – Friday 10 am – 4 pm; Saturday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm.

Salerno Winery

Salerno Winery is small family-owned boutique winery in the Ramona. After planting over 4 acres of vineyard, beginning in 1998, our first vintage was 2002. The winery’s historic adobe ranch house overlooks the rolling hills of Ramona at elevations above 1,500 feet. Salerno produces Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lagrein, Merlot, Ruby Cabernet, Sirah. Tasting hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lenora Winery

Lenora Winery’s tasting room and picnic area situated in a lovely five acre vineyard. The picnic area has lots of seating beneath a large grape arbor where nine different grape varieties grow. Lenora’s wine tasting room is newly remodeled with spacious seating with a view of the estate’s vineyard. Lenora Winery wines are available by tastings include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Alexandria, Grenache, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Tasting hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shadow Mountain Vineyards

Shadow Mountain Vineyards is a third generation family estate grape growing & wine making business, which was founded by Agusto & Helen Mase, an Italian couple in 1944. The family continued to plant extensive vineyards in the 1960s and 70s. They are a limited production winery that specializes in premium white and red table wines grown from the grapes on the estate. Wines produced are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Viognier, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc. Tasting hours are Wed. – Sun. 10 am to 5 pm.

J. Jenkins Winery

The J. Jenkins Winery is on 10 acres located 2 miles north of Julian in a picturesque valley with views of Volcan Moutain. The winery property includes a new wine production building and a tasting room in a rustic apple orchard and a vineyard with Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir grapes. Wines produced are Dolcezza, Viognier, Pinot Grigio, , Merlot, Syrah, Meritage, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Vin Gris De Syrah. Tasting hours are weekends, 11 am – 5 pm.

Mahogany Mountain Vineyard and Winery

Mahogany Mountain Vineyard and Winery is a small, family-owned and operated winery specializing in limited production of handcrafted premium Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Zinfandel. The vineyards are located on 43 acres in a picturesque and sunny high valley (1,500 ft. elevation) in Ramona surrounded by mountains.Tasting hours are Sat. & Sun. 1 pm – 4 pm.

Schwaesdall Winery

Schwaesdall Winery produces premium handcrafted classic European reds and traditional California whites. Their straw-bale tasting room sits nestled amongst various greenery and boulders. Wines produced are Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Cuvee De Oro, Merlot, Mourvedre, Gato Grande, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Port. Tasting hours are Saturday & Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.

Fallbrook Winery

A leader in California’s emerging South Coast wine region, Fallbrook Winery has the ideal microclimate for creating award-winning wines. Since its inception in 1981, Fallbrook Winery has focused on creating wines from a number of varietals that grow well in the local climate. Wines Produced: Cabernet Suavginon, Suavignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Blends, MalbecTasting and tours are by appointment, (760) 728-015.

Eagles Nest Winery & Cottage

Eagles Nest is a family-owned boutique winery, making small lots of premium hand-made wines. Eagles Nest Winery produces red wine varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, Tempranillo, the Rhone staple Syrah/Shriaz, and others. Our white varietals include the popular Rhone varietal Viognier, and we are experimenting with Picpoul Blanc and others. Tastings and tours are by appointment.

Note: The information in this post previously appeared in my article on

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San Diego Fishing Piers

Fishing Piers in San Diego

Have you ever strode out along one of San Diego’s fishing piers and spotted people fishing from the rails? Have you ever wanted to try it yourself, but have been a bit unsure of this practice? Here are some descriptions and tips about fishing San Diego’s piers. You don’t need a state fishing license to fish from our public piers, but all other regulations apply (including minimum size, bag limits, seasons and report card requirements). Here’s a quick rundown of our piers, with info courtesy of Ken Jones’ great website, Pier Fishing in California.

Imperial Beach Pier

This is the southernmost pier in California. Built in 1963, it is within walking distance of the Mexican border and displays on most days a beautiful view of the Los Coronados Islands just off to the southwest. The pier is located on a long sandy beach, has short finger jetties to the north, and extends out 1,491 feet into water that is nearly 20 feet deep. Inshore, there are barred surfperch, California corbina, yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, thornbacks, stingrays, guitarfish and an occasional halibut. At times, this can be a fairly good pier for halibut and, at the right time of the year, it sometimes yields good catches of sand bass.

Shelter Island Pier

Going north from Imperial Beach, the next fishing pier, Shelter Island, is within San Diego Bay. Shelter Island is one of the most popular spots on San Diego Bay. Motels, restaurants, and marinas share most of the island; shoreline grassy areas, a public boat launch and the pier share the rest. The pier itself is new. The original Shelter Island Pier was condemned in 1990 and the new pier was built and it was opened in the summer of 1991. Shelter Island pier extends out only about 200 feet from shore but has a T-shaped end which is nearly 500 feet in width. Most commonly caught fish are Pacific mackerel, yellowfin croaker, kelp and sand bass, herring, among others.

Ocean Beach Pier

Built in 1966, at 1,971 feet the Ocean Beach Pier is supposed to be the longest concrete pier in the world. It also has a T-shape at the end extending 360 feet to the south end and 193 feet to the north end. The far end extends into the Point Loma kelp bed and is blanketed by kelp much of the year. At this far end, where the water is 25 feet deep, the most common species are kelp bass, sand bass, several variety of perch, bonito, mackerel, scorpionfish, halibut and, quite often, California lobster. Because of the length of the pier with more than a mile of railing space, it rarely feels crowded. Though the pier is open 24 hours, venture out at night with caution, as there sometimes is a rough element present.

Crystal Pier

Crystal Pier isn’t one of the largest, one of the most modern, or one of the most convenient piers in California, but it is one of the top fishing piers in the state. Why? Because of the number of fish caught and the possibility of good-quality fish. The pier is located on a long, sandy beach and has neither rocks nor reefs to attract fish; it is simply one of the best beaches to fish for sandy-shore species. Crystal Pier is known for fishing four species of fish: barred surfperch, walleye surfperch, shovelnose guitarfish and California halibut. The best feature of the pier, though, are the Crystal Pier Motel Cottages that are actually on the pier, making for a truly unique experience. The pier is open until sunset, 24 hours for motel guests.

Oceanside Pier

At 1,942 feet, the Oceanside Pier is long. Fish typically caught here are the normal sandy-shore, long-pier variety, and out toward the end you may catch any of these fish but also the more pelagic species like bonito, mackerel, barracuda, small white seabass, and an occasional small yellowtail. This can also be an excellent pier for halibut, sand bass, and guitarfish. A lot of small, undersized (and illegal), white seabass are caught on this pier. Return them to the ocean and you may also avoid a large fine and the loss of your fishing license.

Coronado Ferry Landing

Most people don’t consider the Coronado Ferry Landing as a fishing pier, but it actually is. The pier, opened in 1987, is small (377 feet long) and although part of it is a boarding area for the ferry, the part that is open for angling yields quite a few fish. The pier is often good for mackerel and at least fair for bonito. The overall mix of fish mirrors that found at most bay piers: jacksmelt, topsmelt, mackerel, and bonito on the top; bass, perch, croakers, rays and sharks on the bottom. At night this can be a fairly good pier for sharks and rays. It is open 24 hours.

Note: The information in this post previously appeared in my article for

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San Diego Comic-ConComic-Con

Long gone is the notion that San Diego Comic-Con is a just some curious geekfest. If you thought that the comic book market only consisted of kids and geeky adults sporting unruly hair and a wardrobe consisting of black T-shirts and exhibiting some degree of arrested development, well, then there must be a heck of a lot of them out there. Because Comic-Con is a genuine pop culture mutlimedia and public relations beast. If you don’t believe it, then head out to the San Diego Convention Center and see for yourself: it’s where the annual San Diego Comic-Con International 2013 is setting up shop for four days, July 18-21 (preview night is July 17). But good luck getting in – the event sold out months ago.

Now, to the uninitiated, Comic-Con is not some little gathering of comic book geeks sharing stories and trading their wares. No, sirree - Comic-Com is a huge gathering of comic book and pop culture geeks and fans sharing their stories, trading their wares, and getting a glimpse of their favorite TV & film stars – over 120,000 strong. You see, Comic-Con is the largest convention of its kind in the world, but it is truly more than comics. And it’s the hottest ticket in town. If you can get one.

Comic-Con was first held in 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel, where it attracted 300 people. As the event grew, subsequent homes included the downtown El Cortez Hotel in the 1970s and the San Diego Convention and Performing Arts Center in the 1980s. Comic-Con moved to the then newly built SDCC in 1991.

At Comic-Con, the programming incorporates the whole realm of pop culture, and in particular, the science fiction, horror, action, adventure, and animation genres. And Comic-Con is a big deal: the annual gathering is where the major comic book publishers like DC Comics and Marvel Comics unveil their latest projects. It’s where Hollywood presents exclusive previews of their upcoming productions, presented by the actual directors and stars of the films. It’s where retailers gather to discuss issues within the industry. And it’s where the latest merchandise is rolled out (action figures are a big deal here.)

On top of that, Comic-Con offers tons of panels and discussions from virtually a who’s who in the comic, animation, film making industry. It’s a chance to hear and meet the world-class artists, animators, writers and directors of the film, comic and graphic novel industries.

Check out the Comic-Con programming schedule pages right here.

Comic-Con also has a huge exhibit hall of retailers selling every conceivable piece of comics, collectibles, memorabilia, toys and more. In other words, it’s a Star Wars geek heaven. And with the variety of seemingly sane people dressing up as their favorite Star Wars, Star Trek or whatever character, you’ll get my drift. In fact, Comic-Con puts on a masquerade costume contest with cash prizes to go to some very impressive outfits.

With an unbelievable 400+ hours of panels and events over 4 days and 3 nights, not including anime screenings and gaming, Comic‑Con’s schedule remains devoted to the world of comics. There are panels for all interests: Mainstream superhero comics, alternative press, webcomics, comics history, newspaper comics, European comics, manga: It’s all here.

But I’m not doing the comic geeks justice. You’ll have to go see for yourself – and unleash the inner-geek in yourself.

Comic-Con Quick Info:
San Diego
Convention Center
111 Harbor Drive

July 18-21, 2013 (preview night: July 17)
Thu-Sat Hours:9:30 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Sunday Hours:9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.



Visit the official Comic-Con site for full info and schedules.

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Del Mar horse racingHorse Racing at Del Mar

For me, there are a handful of things that serve as sort of benchmarks for a San Diego summer outdoors: baseball gets into full swing at the beginning of summer, then the outdoor concert season around the county gets cooking, followed by the San Diego County Fair’s rite of summer. But there’s one more annual event that takes place and we ride it right around the turn and down the homestretch of summer — horse racing with the Del Mar Thoroughbred racing season.

Yep, it’s time to whip out the Daily Racing Form, dust off the binoculars, hit the ATM, and pray to the racing gods — Del Mar is back for another season. Co-founded by Hollywood legend Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien, Del Mar is “where the turf meets the surf,” as fine a horse racing atmosphere as you’ll ever find anywhere.

The annual beach party known as the 2013 Del Mar Thoroughbred racing season parades to the post once again beginning Wednesday, July 17. The season extends through Wednesday, September 4, with a five-day-a-week schedule, Monday and Tuesday being each week’s day of rest.

Del Mar’s Opening Day celebration (which has come to be known as the biggest party on the west coast) is expected to draw more than 40,000 celebrities, socialites and fun-seekers to the track to kick-off another historic year. The “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest” will continue the eye-catching tradition of glamorous, comedic and shockingly beautiful hats on the first day of racing. But it’s only one of many special events planned for the season, including a pretty good lineup of summer concerts at the race track.

Lineup for the 2013 Del Mar Races Summer Concert Series

Concerts are free with race admission and take place after the last race of the day.

Fri, Jul 19 The B-52s 91X The Cutting Edge of Rock and Jack Daniels Whiskey
 Fri, Jul 26 Fitz And The Tantrums
 Sat, Jul 27 Sammy Hagar & The Wabos
 Sun, Jul 28 Los Tucanes de Tijuana
 Fri, Aug 2 Iration
 Sun, Aug 4 Larry Hernandez
 Fri, Aug 9 Pinback
 Fri, Aug 16 Steel Pulse
 Sat, Aug 17 Weezer
 Fri, Aug 23 Special Guest
 Fri, Aug 30 Special Guest
 Sat, Aug 31 Reggae Fest featuring Ziggy Marley
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