The South Coast
The South Coast appellation encompasses many smaller areas: Temecula Valley in Riverside County, Cucamonga Valley in San Bernardino County, and the wineries of San Diego County’s Ramona Valley and San Pasqual. It also holds Los Angeles County, which—despite romantic notions about vineyards in Malibu—is relatively miniscule grape-wise.
Within about an hour’s drive of San Diego and Palm Springs, San Diego County’s wineries—about 60—spread northeast of the city outside of Escondido. Many buy their grapes from elsewhere though; only about 200 vineyard acres exist. Temecula is home to about 35 wineries and 60 growers, with just a small percentage of its acres—about 2,000—devoted to grapes.
Viticulture on the South Coast dates to the 1769 founding of the Mission San Diego de Alcala where Father Junípero Serra planted the state’s first vineyards. However, substantial planting in Southern California didn’t take place until the late 1960s, with Brookside Winery and Callaway Winery in Temecula leading the way.
Near Temecula, Cucamonga Valley serves as a source of dry-farmed old-vine Zinfandel. Sonoma-based Zinfandel producer Carol Shelton makes a version every year from Cucamonga’s Lopez Vineyard, which was planted in 1918, describing the stunted 18-inch gnarls as “bush vines.” She calls the Asian-spice-tinged wine Monga Zin. —Virginie Boone