Affordable wine tasting at Orfila Vineyards

by Laurel Vozely

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I used to drink wine in the great race known as, “which of you can give me a buzz first,” because it beat out dull beers and pricey mixed drinks. A few therapy sessions later and this shallow interest has evolved into a full-on wine seduction.

I guess I have the “hipster revolution” to thank for revamping a drink that, before seven years ago, was never being chilled in 20-something-year-olds’ refrigerators. Now this demographic makes up 21 percent of wine consumers.

But I digress.  Wine is back and I’m going to let you know about a great place to taste it in San Diego.

First, I want to address the handful of readers who I know are questioning the general idea of wine tasting. Why taste when I can guzzle a bottle of Big Kahuna from Fresh & Easy for the smooth price of $1.99? A valid point, I’ll admit. However, tasting allows you to fine-tune your preferences, confirm long withstanding dislikes and try something new.

For instance, I’ve never been thrilled to swirl a glass of red. And while I enjoy whites, I thought I might be doomed to a limited selection for the rest of my life. Au contraire. Tasting introduced me to a variety of flavor within the white wine family. It only took a glass or two—or six—to learn this. I love the wine education process!

The Spot: Orfila Vineyards and Winery

Winding your way through the mountains of the San Pasqual Valley, you’ll see fruit farms when looking out your window. It will remind you of simpler times (you can ask your parents about) as you notice handmade signs alerting passersby of fresh apples and strawberries. The lemon trees lining the road will have you thinking deviously about stealing the fruit that has already fallen from the branch. Just five minutes from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and not too far from the main freeway in Escondido, you’ll find a humble little hilltop winery. Orfila Winery has been blessing Southern California with its authentic wines for 19 years.

Seventy acres of land host rows upon rows of grape vines, which yield the 15 wines contending for your sip in the tasting room. The list progresses from whites to reds—the suggested tasting order. They say once you sip red, you can’t go white. I’ll have to work on that one.

After stepping onto the patio from the tasting room, you’ll find rolling hills splayed at your feet. You will sit with your glass of wine and dream of running through the aisles of the vineyard. After a few glasses, this dream will most likely become a reality and you’ll find the most organic of freedoms.

Orfila offers this delicious tasting experience from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Each visitor is allowed six tastings for the price of $10. To enhance your tasting, a generous selection of cheeses, bread and cracker items are available for purchase inside the tasting room. I suggest trying the Chipotle Gouda—it has just the right amount of spice to create fireworks when paired with an oaky red wine.

If you’re like me and leave wanting more, the winery offers the Orfila Wine Lovers Club to visitors who find it difficult to say goodbye. The OWL Club includes quarterly shipments of wine and numerous discounts.

 

Rookie Mistakes to Avoid:

Don’t feel like you have to stay inside the tasting room the entire time. Take your glass and savor it outside. After all, you’re not paying to simply lean against the serving bar drinking wine. Look around.

Don’t rush. The word “tasting” might make you feel like this is a short visit but the truth is, you can make your time last as long as you’d like. Be sure to take your time with each glass to really identify the different flavorings.

Don’t plan on leaving right away—because you will get buzzed.

Tips:

Come on a Monday and wine tastings are two (visitors) for the price of one!

Buy a bottle of your favorite taste and save it for a special occasion.

Bring your special someone for a whimsically romantic date.

My only regret is that I didn’t pack a picnic and blanket to lounge in the grass.

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