I may not live in California’s “wine country,” but San Diego is definitely not lacking when it comes to wine. Last week I visited Orfila Vineyards & Winery for the first time and was blown away by the magnificent views from the winery—it was like something straight out of a fairy tale. Or maybe it was just a fairy tale to me because my dreams involve someday working for a winery ;). Either way, it wasn’t hard to appreciate the beauty. Orfila is located in Escondido, California on top of beautiful rolling hills with a lovely view of mountains in the background.
This has already gone on my list of “top picks” for places I would like to get married! Orfila happens to do a lot of weddings right in front of their vineyard and they also have a huge outdoor tent for receptions. Seriously, it’s the perfect spot for anyone who wants a romantic outdoor wine-themed wedding.
Apart from weddings, they have an amazing selection of wines. While they happen to offer all your basic varietals, they specifically grow traditional Rhone varietals. The reason for this is because the climate in Rhone is most similar to our own. Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Viognier show their highest expression when grown in a maritime climate like the one offered in the San Pasqual Valley, just 15 miles from the coast.
I tried their Merlots and their Syrahs, (yes they have multiples of each), but what I was really blown away by was their white wines. Now, I may have mentioned on here before that I started out as primarily a dry red wine drinker, but as I began taking wine classes my tastes evolved and I began to appreciate more white wines as a result. I have been especially obsessed with finding buttery Chardonnays that are maloactic fermented.
What exactly does this mean? Well, a lot of times the way a grape is grown will affect the taste of the wine, but there are also wine-making techniques that can enhance and add flavors to wine. Maloactic fermentation involves stirring in the dead yeast cells leftover from fermentation, called lees, into the wine to add savory flavors of dairy, butter and cream. These wines take on a whole different flavor profile and are much different than your oaky or fruit-forward Chardonnays.
Orfila’s 2007 Ambassador’s Reserve Chardonnay is the perfect example of what an ML Chard should taste like. Additionally it is aged in French oak, giving it toasty and vanilla flavors. I highly recommend it! 🙂
Orfila is also well known for their Estate Viognier. Now, I have never been a huge fan of Viognier but I was definitely converted after trying theirs. It’s amazing how you can try a varietal several times, but until you try a bottle where the winemaker truly captures the grape and balances the flavors just right, you may never know it’s potential. With just the right balance of crispness and fruit, Orfila’s Estate Viognier is the perfect summer white—not too sweet, but not too dry. Also aged in French oak barrels, it develops flavors of vanilla in addition to it’s cirtus and floral notes.
Last but not least, I really enjoyed Orfila’s California Tawny Port. It is by far some of the best Port I have ever had. With flavors of raisins, caramel, licorice and orange, it pairs perfectly with the dark chocolate they serve with it. I liked it so much I had to buy a bottle which I am waiting to open for a future blog! I bought some Stilton cheese the other day at Trader Joe’s that goes perfect with Port—I cannot WAIT to dig in!
So, for $10 I was given 6 different tastes of wine and a souvenir wine glass, in addition to the $18 bottle of Port I brought home. I give this place two thumbs up. Get out there now—go drink vino!