Scenic Valley Ranch Winery

From a Competitive BBQ Team called the Porketeers to Award-winning Winemakers

Dennis and Sherry McGrath have always been entrepreneurs during their 12-year marriage. “We were part of a competitive BBQ team called The Porketeers! We also had a catering company and a food truck at one time. Then we got a wild hair to open a winery,” Dennis said. Sherry studied at San Diego State University in the Business of Wine Program. After graduation, they decided to dive in.

Beautiful Ballena Valley
Beautiful Ballena Valley

We fell in love with the stunning Ballena Valley just east of Ramona. The valley boasts somewhere around seven wineries. We found this property and bought it. We named it Scenic Valley Ranch Winery. And bonus, it’s just down the highway from the Oasis Camel Farm and Dairy.

“We brought the property in 2018 after looking at several properties across the USA. We love the location and the fact that it is seated in the Ramona Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) with excellent visibility from the highway,” Dennis said.

Sherry McGrath

They planted their vineyards in 2019 and 2021 was their first harvest. Starting a winery is not for the feint of heart.  It takes a real entrepreneurial spirit and hutzpah to survive. Both of the McGrath’s hold day jobs during the week, to help keep them afloat as they grow their winery.

A pleasant discovery when they were land hunting was the  historic 90 year old Flame Tokay grapes. “We used to drive by this vineyard when I was a kid back in the 60s and 70s and buy a gallon of Flame Tokay grape juice,” said winemaker Jim Hart of Volcan Mountain Winery. “Now the vines are making award-winning wines.” The Flame Tokay wine is a sweeter wine with its own unique flavor profile.

Flame Tokay vine, waiting to be pruned for spring
Flame Tokay vineyard ready for pruning

The McGrath’s did their research throughout the Ramona Valley to learn what varietals grow well here and in the end they decided that they liked Bordeaux-style wines. They planted Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Albariño, Petit Verdot, and Petite Sirah.

“Our first full harvest was 2021. Mentors suggested that we just drop the fruit and wait one more year, but we decided to make wine out of the grapes. Good thing we did, because our 2021 Malbec earned a Silver Medal at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition,” Sherry said.

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5 award-winning wines

This year has been very good to them also. “We earned Silver for our 2021 Malbec at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. We earned Bronze for our 2022 Rosé of Merlot and 2021 Merlot at the 2023 Fingerlakes International Wine Competition. At the 2024 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition we earned Gold for our 2021 Merlot, plus a Silver for our 2022 Ballena Blanco and a Bronze medal for our 2022 Rosé of Merlot.”

Scenic Valley Tasting Patio

Scenic Valley Winery is located at 27012 Scenic Valley Rd, Ramona. Call 619-884-3514 to check hours. Go to:

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