Wine Tasting Experiences in Oceanside
While San Diego may be well-known for its craft beer, Oceanside, the county’s northern most city, has been making waves recently by expanding into the wine scene. From sea and sky wine adventures to stylish new tasting rooms, and a winery in the vineyards – there are plenty of reasons to sip and savor in this Southern California beach town.
Unique Tasting Experiences
Harbor Wine Cruise
For sea, sunsets and award-winning local wine visitors don’t need to go farther than Oceanside Harbor where Oceanside Adventures offers a Harbor Wine Cruise on the first Saturday of each month.
The 90-minute cruise aboard the luxury catamaran includes scenic exploration of Oceanside’s coastal waters, selection of appetizers and three tastes of wine from Oceanside’s award-winning Beach House Winery.
Tasting Among the Vineyards
Located in the hills of Oceanside is Beach House Winery, the region’s first vineyard by the sea. Nestled in the agricultural neighborhood of South Morro Hills, Beach House Winery produces all wines onsite and features a tasting room where visitors can sip on a glass of wine within the tasting room or overlooking the vineyard on the rooftop balcony. The tasting room is open weekends or by appointment.
Helicopter Lunch and Wine Tour
Waverider Helicopter Tours takes the concept of wine adventure up a notch with its Helicopter Lunch and Wine Tour package. Visitors will feel like they are living a real-life episode of the Bachelor during this experience, which includes a 20-minute flight from Oceanside Airport that cruises along the picturesque coastline before turning inland toward Temecula.
Guests land at Temecula’s Thornton Winery where they are greeted with a glass of champagne and can enjoy a two-hour lunch and wine tasting before being whisked back to Oceanside by helicopter. The excursion is priced for two people with lunch and wine tasting sold separately.
Coastal Wine Tasting Rooms
Cruise through coastal Oceanside and what will you find? Tons of entertaining local bars, tasting rooms and restaurants where you can experience the amazing food and wine culture of San Diego’s classic beach community. Whether you’re an oenophile or novice, you’re certain to encounter a palette pleaser out of the myriad of expressive wines at the following establishments.
Coomber Craft Wines
Are you an animal lover? Then you can’t resist Coomber Craft Wines featuring family pets on every label. You may even spot skateboard riding mascot Maggie the Bulldog at the new downtown winery.
Co-owners Skip and Maureen Coomber began making wine at a facility in Santa Barbara County in 2009 using choice grapes sourced primarily from Central California. They achieved early success when their 2010 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon received an astounding 95-point rating from Wine Enthusiast. The couple opened their tasting room in Oceanside because of the business-friendly feel. Skip explains, “My whole mantra here is fun first.”
Discover an oasis of urban sophistication at the downtown Oceanside tasting room hosting a collection of 16 varietals. This urban winery has a fun atmosphere, where the industrial brick walls add character complemented by cool elements made from recycled materials. The bar face incorporates steel from a decommissioned naval ship while lighting fixtures use wooden strips from old wine barrels and repurposed wine bottles. An enclosed back patio beckons with cozy bistro tables and romantic string lights.
Order sample flights or glasses of wine and nibble on savory-sweet charcuterie from Red Bicycle Kitchen. Be sure to taste the unique 2013 Private Reserve Santa Maria Chardonnay with luscious notes of chocolate and caramel. Visit on the weekends to enjoy live music and other events. Coomber Craft Wines opens from 4-9pm on weekdays and noon-9pm on weekends.
Orfila Vineyards & Winery
Owner Alejandro Orfila served as a former Argentine ambassador. He started his winery in Escondido’s San Pasqual Valley 25 years ago. The new Oceanside tasting room fits right into the town’s mushrooming culinary scene. Find Orfila at Pier View North near the waterfront. The vibe veers towards rustic modern. Large windows, recycled wine bottle succulent planters and metal-wood furniture enhance the ambiance. A curated collection of artwork for sale changes throughout the year.
Award-winning Orfila wines elevate traditional French and Italian varietals. Winemaker Justin Mund sources grapes from the Estate, Central California and Oregon. He produces premium small batch wines with a focus on quality. Choose from a nice variety of over 20 varietals ranging from white, red, rosé, sparkling or dessert vintages by the flight or glass. Standouts include the Ambassador’s Chardonnay, Montepulciano Estate and Pinot Noir Sequestered. The fruity chardonnay bursting with toasty oak notes goes well with seafood. The rich Montepulciano impresses with notes of raspberry, black plum, cedar and vanilla. Cherry, pepper and spice characterize the palate-pleasing Pinot Noir. The Owl Wine Club offers select quarterly wines, complimentary tastings and more.
Executive Chef Luke Morganstern created healthy, tasty small plates to complement the wines. The food menu includes suggested pairings for each one of his dishes. He showcases local purveyors in items from sliders to flatbreads. Sample cured meats from Angel’s Salumi & Truffles, relish hearty bread from Prager Brothers and get your fresh produce fix from Cyclops Farms. Savor weekly specials like Baja Halibut Ceviche or Stuffed Branzino in beurre blanc. If you’re a vegan, don’t fret! Indulge in the Vegan Seitan Spicy Sloppy Joes served on a Doughside Donut toasted bun. Finish with a decadent slice of Vegan Coconut Cake.
Catch local renown musicians performing live such as Jimmy Patton and Shane Hall. Orfila often hosts other events like trivia nights, comedy and art classes. Check their website for current calendar listings.
The Miller’s Table
Down the road, hospitality guru/sommelier and chef Staci Miller decided to open The Miller’s Table: Wine, Beer & Fare after falling in love with the community of Oceanside. Deep blue walls, wooden tables, farmhouse lighting and candles lend charm to this 24-seat restaurant. Sit at the large, central “community table” to meet new friends and relish the intimate size of the dining room together with ultra personal service. This local hangout was recently named one of Yelp’s top 25 wine bars in the United States.
Staci draws on her encyclopedic knowledge of wine to create thematic flights like Fundamentally French or Que Sera Syrah. Flights change weekly and include unusual sparkling, white, rosé and red options. To nosh, choose from yummy small plates or charcuterie plus panini sandwiches made with crunchy local bread served with addictive homemade potato chips. Checkout special dinner menus that feature internationally inspired four course meals with suggested wine pairings. For example, journey to Spain via a flavorful slice of Tortilla Española with a glass of Cariynea.
The Privateer Marketplace & Wine Bar
Finally, hang out with locals at The Privateer Marketplace & Wine Bar in the thriving neighborhood of South Oceanside. An exposed industrial ceiling, black concrete flooring and white washed walls contribute to the casual modern vibe of this hip spot. Design your own flight from the nice selection of largely California wines. Bring an appetite to savor artisan sandwiches, seasonal salads, tantalizing desserts or even a float from the float bar. Plus you can order scrumptious pizza pies from the adjacent, jointly owned The Privateer Coal Fire Pizza.
About the Author
Jolee Pink is an Oceanside-based writer, designer and artist. She runs the popular Eat Drink SD Facebook group and her Wabisabi Green lifestyle blog focuses on art, design, food and travel. For more information, please visit wabisabigreen.com.