Orfila Vineyard and Winery

Not to be snooty, because we’re not, but having lived in the fabulous wine region of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, we are a bit spoiled. The sheer number of wineries induces them to staff tasting rooms with connoisseurs able to educate visitors about terroir, how weather affected various vintages, and the like.

Not so much in SoCal.

Whine Not!

But what Southern California lacks in data, they make up for in style! You’ll find many wineries whose selections aren’t necessarily tied to terroir. With the freedom to ponder their offerings, you can taste a wide diversity of varietals!

And while some Southern California vineyards are getting positive attention across the country (I’m looking at you, Temecula Valley), the one we have chosen as our “home winery” is Orfila Vineyards and Winery.

Excuses, Excuses

Though we joined Orfila’s OWL wine club a couple of years before, we still had not done an official flight tasting. Oh, we’ve enjoyed many glasses of Rosé with friends on Orfila’s beautiful patio. We also attended a dinner event at their Oceanside tasting room with Chef Luke. We even made reservations for wine club pick ups during Covid restrictions. But tasting a flight, as important it is, escaped us.

We joined the OWL (Orfila Wine Lovers) Club during a busy season in our lives. Work and travel kept our wheels spinning, and wine memberships took a back seat. Then Covid slammed on the brakes! Tastings only started to creep back onto the menu at wineries in late ’21.

So our mission is to finally do a proper tasting. After all, OWL club members get 10 free tastings a month! So let’s start taking advantage of this perk.

Escondido Tasting Room

The view from the patio at Orfila is stunning!

Orfila’s sprawling 70 acre vineyard is in the San Pasqual Valley, about 30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. Once they opened in 1994, San Diegans began streaming in, and Orfila became wildly popular with locals. It’s hard to find anyone who is not either a member or who has not attended an event at this amazing venue!

The winery provides the perfect place to relax and entertain friends. Sometimes you’ll find live music on the eastern patio along with food trucks. This main patio offers a shady, vine-covered pergola with stunning views, including Mount Woodson (of Potato Chip Rock fame). It’s kinda cool to sip wine wine with a view of a mountain we have conquered!

On the west end of the winery grounds, there are picnic benches in a large grassy area with a few trees for shade. During peak times, Orfila also opens a walk-up bar at this end of the property.

If you would prefer to enjoy your wine closer to the beach, visit the Oceanside tasting room. Chef Luke Morganstern offers food and wine pairings prepared daily with locally sourced ingredients.

Tasting in Good Taste

We’re ready for our Orfila flight experience, but this has some twists. First, we’ve been sipping Orfila wines since 2019, so we have already experienced many of their wines.

Orfila is a little different than other wineries; the flights consist of four 1½ oz pours instead of the usual six 1 oz pours typical of other wineries. Orfila encourages you wander the grounds while you sip. And since this is not a guided tasting, you get to file your own flight path!

For those new to tasting, start with the lighter whites and work your way up to the more full-bodied reds. For our tasting, our plan has both of us ending our flights with a 2017 Oregon Pinot Noir. From there we select different wines and take sips of each other’s choices.

Duly Noted

We’re partial to Oregon Pinots, but wow!

Sip number 1 for me the 2019 Côte D’ O Estate, a light dry white with a hint of citrus and pineapple. Andy chooses a 2018 Gewürztraminer, sweeter with notes of peach, white pepper, and honey. It would be a perfect choice to serve with spicy Asian food.

Selection 2, I choose the 2020 Lotus. I would serve this with a cheese platter. It has a light fresh grape essence, but with a little more bite to it than the Côte D’ O. Andy goes for the 2019 California Rosé. This has a very nice strawberry note to it. I like serving Orfila Rosé with Thanksgiving dinner.

Choice 3 for me is 2017 Sequestered Pinot Noir, with notes of spiced cherry. I am looking to compare and contrast this Pinot with the ’17 Oregon Pinot. Andy goes for his favorite: Benign Neglect Confusion. This is a velvety red wine with raspberry, cherry, herb, and spices.

Finally, it’s the 2017 Oregon Pinot Noir for both of us. This 5-year-old wine is quite a treat! It is fuller-bodied than the ’17 Sequestered, with notes of dried cherry, cardamom, and dried herbs. This Oregon Pinot is definitely softening and maturing right on schedule in comparison to other ’17 Oregon Pinots we have in our collection. Definitely worth splurging on a few bottles.

Supporting Cast

Other notable Orfila choices we love are their Tempranillo, Chardonnay, and Full Fathom Five red blend. I feel like the Full Fathom Five is going to be even better as it ages, so we have a few bottles on the Do-Not-Touch rack in our collection. [Spoiler alert! I was right!]

Our overall experience tasting at Orfila was very relaxed. Sipping slowly outdoors gives the wine a chance to really open up in the glass. And since there is no pressure to rush through a flight, you don’t end up tipsy from sipping too fast. We would like to discuss the wines with an Orfila Sommelier to be better educated on their grapes, as well as hearing their food-pairing suggestions.

We need to drop back in at the Oceanside location and let Chef Luke work his alchemy with a food and wine paring!