South California Wineries

The Southern California Region consists of San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Orange County. Who is still producing wines in Southern California?

Temecula Valley Vineyards
Most of the vineyards in Southern California are located in the Temecula Valley, roughly 90 miles away from Los Angeles. Interestingly, the original vineyards, planted in the mid-1960s, were probably not planted to produce wine but to attract new homeowners.

The climate of the area is too hot and dry, even with cool evening breezes, for winemaking. However, once drip systems were installed, winemaking took off.

Winemakers still do not grow grapes willy-nilly in the Temecula Valley. The soil contains a great deal of granite, and grape growers have to prune and irrigate carefully to keep vines healthy and growing.

The Temecula Valley has about 20 wineries and about 3,000 acres of grapevines growing. Temecula Valley wineries produce Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot wines as well as Voignier, Syrah and Pinot Gris. Wineries include:

  • Bella Vista Vineyard & Winery
  • Callaway Vineyard & Winery
  • Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery
  • South Coast Winery & Vineyards
  • Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards

San Diego County wineries
San Diego County was the first place in California where wine grapes were planted. Franciscan Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary, is often called the Father of California Wine. Father Serra started the first vineyard at Mission San Diego de Alacala in 1769, most likely using grapes that had been imported from Spain and grown in Mexico for some time. These grapes, which became known as Mission Grapes, were a variety of Vitis vinifera and were the most important wine grape in California until about 1880.

Wineries in San Diego County include:

  • Belle Marie Winery*
  • Orifila Vineyards & Winery
  • Bernardo Winery*
  • Witch Creek Winery*

Wineries in San Diego County offer Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, Merlots and more.

Orange County
Orange County was once a major producer of wine grapes in California, with Anaheim, now home to Disneyland, being the center of the action. A blight wiped out all of the grapevines during the 1880s, closing a door on an era.

Newport Beach Vineyards and Winery, which is not open to the public for touring, and Hamilton Oaks Vineyard Winery both grow their own grapes. Laguna Canyon Winery buys its grapes from Northern California.

Wines offered in Orange County include Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, Zinfandels and Pinot Noirs.

Los Angeles County
Downtown Los Angeles was once covered with grapevines. Jean-Louis Vignes, a French winemaker who had a large impact on California wines, planted grapevines from Bordeaux in what is now downtown Los Angeles in 1833. Interestingly, Vignes also started the first orange grove in Los Angeles a year later.

Wineries in the Los Angeles area include:

  • Agua Dulce Vineyards
  • Rosenthal--The Malibu Hills Vineyards
  • Moraga Vineyards
  • Saddlerock Vineyards
  • San Antonio Winery*

Wines that are produced in the Los Angeles area include Sauvignon Blancs, sparkling wines, Zinfandels, Merlots and Chardonnays.

San Bernardino County
At the height of its wine production in the 1940s, San Bernardino County was the proud home of roughly 45,000 acres of grapevines and about 60 wineries. With the end of World War II, more and more people moved into San Bernardino County, eventually pushing most of the vineyards out.

Wineries in San Bernardino County include:

  • Galleano Winery
  • Joseph Filippi Winery and Vineyards
  • Rancho de Philo Winery

Wines produced in San Bernardino County include Zinfandel Ports, Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons and Sauvignon Blancs.

It is wonderful to know that there are still wineries and vineyards nestled within the vast urban sprawl of Southern California.

*These wineries do not use any or very few wine grapes grown at their locations.

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