Friday, August 2, 2013


The Pamo tasting room has expanded. There's now an additional space behind the main bar, ideal for socializing with friends or watching a game. And the patio is nicer than ever. Thanks Jennifer!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


The vineyard house
We always have a great time at Milagro Farm in the Ramona Valley, but this weekend we were in for a special treat: a guided, golf-cart-propelled tour of the 110-acre property. Well tended rows of vines grow among rock formations, stands of olive trees, ponds, and some impressive man-made structures.
The house overlooks a healthy pond
So many choices

We finally met a wild turkey. People tell us they're really not elusive.

Entrance to the cave

Tony's incredible stonework

The greenhouse

Vintage 2012 in the making

There's a rose bush at the end of every row of grapes because, as we learned from Kyle in the tasting room, roses and grapes are succeptible to the same diseases. At least sometimes the roses succumb first, warning the grape grower in time to apply a fungicide.
Master Guide Vicente
Happy guests in the tasting room
What's wonderful in the tasting room right now? The weather's warming up; a lot of guests were sipping slightly sweet Manzana de Milagro sparkling apple wine, crisp and grassy Sauvignon Blanc, or an exceptional dry Rosé of Cabernet Franc. But as usual we gravitated towards the reds, especially Sangiovese and Barbera. All of these estate-grown wines are vintage 2010. The Barbera won a gold medal at the 2012 Riverside International Wine Competition.

Milagro Farm Vineyards and Winery is open Fridays-Sundays 11-5. We don't promise you'll get a guided tour, but you will encounter some excellent wines and friendly people in a stunning setting.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Becky Cullen designs cool labels like this one.

We were the very first customers to visit Cactus Star Vineyard’s new tasting patio. The Vineyard is part of Joe and Becky Cullen’s Scaredy Cat Ranch,  named after a very timid horse. Joe’s engineering job took him to Spain, Italy, Germany and Turkey, where came to know and enjoy wine. In 1995 Becky gave him a winemaking kit for his birthday; the rest is history. The couple relocated from Pittsburgh to Ramona, planting their first grapes in 2001. Their winery – ensconced in a couple of small, semi-underground structures – has been licensed and bonded since 2006. There are now 600 vines on the Cullens' property. Joe makes around 150 cases of wine each year, most of which is estate-grown. His “Two Dogs Barking” label differentiates non-estate wine sourced exclusively from the Ramona AVA.

Two Dogs Barking
We liked everything here, starting with a dry, tasty, 2009 Two Dogs Barking Grenache. The 2009 Scaredy Cat Ranch (100%) Tempranillo is a winner. This grape is hard to grow in Ramona because it’s not heat tolerant, but Joe’s vines are on a slope that gets a marine breeze. It was interesting to compare the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (80% Cab, 15% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec) and the Petit Verdot from the same year (80% Petit Verdot, 15% Cab, 5% Malbec). We ultimately decided on the Cabernet Sauvignon for its well rounded flavor and dry finish.

It was a pleasure to visit and taste these wines. We'll be back! 

Stained glass art adorns the winery structures.
Cactus Star's tasting patio is open on weekends by appointment.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


On our second visit to the Edwards’s beautiful tasting patio, Beth was pouring a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon and two distinctive Syrahs: ’04 and ’05. We scored  another bottle of the ’04. Winemaker Victor – indisputably one of the best in the Ramona AVA – and vineyard canine Doc joined us on a perch overlooking the vines.

Victor told us about how, after a harvest, he likes to taste the grape juices and experiment with blending them. For instance, he has four different clones of Syrah that he tastes separately and together. After fermentation, most of his wines are aged in pre-owned French Oak barrels. “You can pick your aroma profile from barrels that are already seasoned and have had wine in them.”

Victor Edwards and some of his Vines
The Edwards will officially release their 2007 Petit Syrah on Saturday Nov. 5, but they were kind enough to give us a pre-taste. Very impressed, we asked to buy a bottle and Victor took us up to the winery to fetch one. There we saw some serious equipment and met dark-faced white sheep, quite a few free-ranging chickens, and of course the winery cats.

The Edwards tasting patio is open on weekends 11:00-4:00. 760.788.0738


Link to first Edwards post...