This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
At a dinner recently, I was handed a glass of orange wine. To be specific, it was a dry muscat pét-nat, short for pétillant-naturel, a slightly sparkling natural wine. Orange wine being a trend in the wine world these days, I expected to be told that it was from Italy, Slovenia or Georgia. Instead, I was told it was from San Diego. Yes, you heard me correctly — San Diego, the beach city at the bottom of California.
Actually, San Diego was the first area in California where vineyards were planted and wine was produced. Dating into the 18th and 19th centuries, California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was producing wine.
Today, San Diego is home to more than 115 wineries. And, San Diego County is home to two AVAs. The San Pasqual Valley AVA, established in 1981, covers 9,000 acres on the banks of the San Dieguito River near Escondido. The Ramona Valley AVA, established in 2006, includes 89,000 acres surrounding the town of Ramona. Both of these AVAs fall within the larger South Coast AVA that stretches from Malibu to the Mexican border, which includes San Diego.