Three San Diego Urban Wineries

Three San Diego Urban Wineries: Abnormal Wines, Witch Creek Winery & San Pasqual Winery

One of the exciting things happening the San Diego wine scene is the phenomenon of “urban” wineries. Urban Wineries are popping up all over the county, as well as many city settings around the United States. An urban winery purchases its grapes from the countryside and produces the wines in the city. An urban winery doesn’t require a drive to the countryside (although we all love a drive out in the countryside), and urban wineries usually have a tasting room with facilities to sit and have a glass of wine after you’ve found your favorite wine. Urban wineries usually offer all of the amenities of estate wineries including wine clubs, wine events.

We will explore three urban wineries in San Diego:

Abnormal Wine Company/ Rancho Bernardo:

Located in a commercial building complex in Rancho Bernardo this winery strives to push the boundaries of what people think about wine and how it is presented. They label their wines by number (as opposed to varietals), therefore making their wines more approachable to people who can’t pronounce or don’t know about a particular varietal or who might be scared to try a new or different wine. Owners James James Malone and Matt DeLoach say the core of their drive is the knowledge of creating something new. They want to change the way people think about the current wine culture.


“We’re not doing things the traditional way,” Matt says. “We’re working on using essences. We have a Chocolate berry port and Chocolate citrus port and we’re working on a coffee port.” Tip: Try the #18. Matt says there are #18 fan clubs.

Also a strong focus for these two men is education. They call themselves novice winemakers and feel that the time is now to get into the wine industry in San Diego.

Enjoy their lovely tasting room/lounge Wednesday through Sunday 2-6pm (9pm on Thursdays and Fridays). For more information go to:

Witch Creek Winery/ Carlsbad:

The first urban winery in San Diego, Witch Creek has expanded to two tasting room locations. Founded in 1993 they have a tasting room on Main Street in Julian and on Highway 101 in Carlsbad in 1996, just two blocks from the beach. Owner Dave Wodehouse, was the winemaker until he fired himself.  Now the winemaker is Ryan Baker assisted by Ryan Scott.

Their Carlsbad tasting room is a working winery and tasting room combined. It is a walk-up tasting room. There are no chairs and tables to sit at and sip wine. When you taste there you are among their barrels, making you feel like you’re a part of the production process. The barrels are all covered with fun trivia, like it takes 75-100 grapes to make a glass of wine or one acre of land averages 797 gallons of wine.

This winery currently sources their grapes from Clarksburg, by the Sacramento River in Northern California, and Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley. This summer they have been tasting seven red wines,  two whites and two sweet wines. For those big, bold red wine lovers, definitely try their Montepulciano, Primitivo and Kathy’s Cuvee, a Meritage blend of Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Tasting hours in Carlsbad for the Fall are 11AM-5:30PM Sunday-Thursday. They stay open a half hour later on Fridays and Saturdays. The tasting room on Main Street in Julian is open 11AM-5PM daily.

San Pasqual Winery/La Mesa

San Pasqual Winery has been on the move in 2013. In June owners Mike and Linda McWilliams augmented their Pacific Beach production facility and La Mesa storefront tasting room and added another much larger facility and tasting room on Center Street, just a few blocks away. The industrial neighborhood in La Mesa is very approachable with plenty of parking. A new 4,500 square-foot facility has room to process grapes, tanks for storage and a tasting room. The winery still offers music on weekend nights, come sip wine and listen to local musicians. They will also continue promoting local artists as well as their different arts programs where people create art projects in the winery. Watch for them to grow even more. This winery has quite a reputation for their quirky Passion Fruit/habanero wine. You must try it! Sure it’s just for fun; you can find other serious wines with grapes from Northern California: Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are plenty of sparkling, white and rose wines also. Currently the tasting room is open 12PM-8PM Monday through Thursday, 12PM-10PM Friday and Saturday and 12PM-5PM on Sunday. For current events go to:

If you’re researching urban wineries, San Diego has a newly formed urban winery alliance. Currently eight urban wineries are part of the alliance.

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