San Diego's North County is among the finest varietal grape-growing regions in the western United States. The region boasts a variety of vineyards, from larger wineries that feature guided tours and full gift shops to small family-run places, where visitors can elbow up to the oak bar to taste a fume blanc and petite sirah, and get a "tour" by simply turning around and glancing at huge tanks, vats and machinery just behind them.

Right in San Diego's Back Yard

Most wineries are located off Interstate 15, approximately a 45-minute to an hour's drive north of downtown San Diego, yet seemingly a world away. Some vineyards stand atop hills and provide sweeping views of the valley, while others are set off winding dirt roads. San Diego's wineries are one of the area's best-kept secrets.

Bernardo Winery

Located at 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte in Rancho Bernardo, the winery features its own olive oil and homemade pasta, and sells a variety of items in its Winery Village Shops to accompany its popular red and white wines. The tasting room is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and the Winery Village Shops are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday. Independent tours are open to the public daily, and picnic grounds are also available. For more information, call (858) 487-1866.

Falkner Winery

Located on Calle Contento Road in nearby Temecula the winery offers spectacular views of Temecula Valley. Falkner Winery produces premium wines with outstanding varietal character from grapes grown on the estate, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Sangiovese and proprietary wines, such as the “Rosato” and robust red Tuscan “Cello.” Wine tasting and tours are available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call (951) 676-8231.

Fallbrook Winery

Located on Via Rancheros Road in the town of Fallbrook, the winery produces premium wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. For more information, call (760) 728-0156.

Orfila Vineyards and Winery

Located in the San Pasqual Valley's pristine agricultural preserve, at 13455 San Pasqual Road near the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido. Tours and tastings are offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily; a picnic area and newly enlarged winery gift shop are also featured. For more information, call (760) 738-6500, or visit

Destination Temecula

Don't want the hassle of driving while tasting? Destination Temecula assists visitors in planning wine tasting trips to San Diego's North County, including transportation to and from the winery region from any Southern California starting point. Knowledgeable staff shares their unique local perspective about the history and distinct sights found throughout the area, and guides visitors through expansive equestrian ranches, impressive estates, fragrant citrus orchards, acres of vineyards and, of course, to premium wineries for wine tasting. For more information and reservations, call (909) 695-1232 or (800) 584-8162.

San Diego Wine & Culinary Center

If you would rather enjoy your wine tasting adventure in a downtown San Diego location, visit the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center on Harbor Drive for incredible wine and food discovery. For more information, call (619) 231-6400.