Sally and I were joined by our friends Sarah and Dave last Sunday as we took our first wine tasting excursion to the Ramona Valley wine region. While you shouldn’t cancel your Napa plans just yet, Ramona Valley can be a fun place to spend a day wine tasting if you live in or near San Diego County.
Our general impression was this is a very young wine region. Many of the wines we tasted were produced from vineyards that have yielded grapes for only a few years. The winemakers themselves typically didn’t have many vintages under their belts, but they were eager to learn and experiment. Give this region some time and we might see some great wine.
We met a few interesting characters along the way.
Victor Edwards was pouring wine on the Edwards Vineyard and Cellars wine patio. He and his wife, Beth, make the wine and run the winery with the help of their sons. Their story seems like that of so many people who love wine, plant a few vines in their yard, and one day find themselves running a winery.
Their wines are made in very small lots. Edwards only produced 47 cases each of the 2008 Syrah and 2008 Whale Mountain Red (50% Syrah and 50% Petit Sirah), their only current releases still available.
The winery didn’t have much of a tasting venue, which is usually a good sign. They had a few tables and chairs, a wine bar, and a small shack where they stored wine and supplies. A couple of dogs welcomed visitors as they arrived. Everything was nice and casual.
Kim Nguyen-Hargett was our host at Mahogany Mountain Vineyard and Winery. She and her husband own the winery, which is situated on 43 acres on Mahogany Ranch Road.
Kim was pouring two vintages of their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Mourvedre when we visited. She helped us have a bit of fun by pouring each vintage in a glass without telling us which was which. We all would taste the wine and try to guess the vintage based on the tasting notes on their wine list. Doing side-by side tastings is always a lot of fun and a great way to learn a little more about wine.
Our last stop of the day was Kohill Winery. Mike Kopp, the owner and winemaker, was on hand to pour us some wine when we arrived. We were his only guests so we kept talking and Mike kept pouring. We got to barrel taste several wines and he even opened a couple of bottles of unreleased wine for us to try.
Kohill’s current releases were good, but the stuff from the barrel has some real promise. I’m sure we’ll be back for his next vintage.