Life in Escondido: Exploring the growing cluster of wineries

Wine country dream job comes with free rent, 30 cases of wine and a salary of $10K per month
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 21:24:16-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — On a clear summer day in July, the sun shines down on rows and rows of lush green grape vines.

"It's about making it approachable for the customer, so like figuring out when you come in here what is your palate, what do you taste? It's just to enjoy and that should be the focus," said Christian Ecker, cellar master at Orfila Winery.

Looking around you might think you're in Paso Robles or the Napa Valley, but it's actually Escondido.

"There's not just one specific varietal that works here everyone makes different varietals work here," said Ecker.

Orfila sits in the middle of a growing cluster of wineries in the northern part of San Diego County.

Grape growing and wine making in the area dates back to the 1700's, when some of California's first wine grapes were planted. And although Escondido continues to produce everything from merlot to viognier, Ecker says the region is also excellent at retaining that intimate feel.

"Because of our size here, that we are small and more boutique, we can really focus on giving a quality experience with our wine tastings," said Ecker.

Several miles away from Orfila is another tasting room, 'Sip Wine and Beer'.

Owner Cassandra Schaeg says there are now over 20 tasting rooms in the area and counting.

"The term Escondido means "hidden city" so people need to know there are a lot of things hidden here including wineries."

According to the San Diego County Vintner's Association, wineries saw a 19% increase in sales in 2021 bringing in just over $44 million. The growth brings the region almost to pre-pandemic levels.

At Orfila they say they were able to weather the COVID storm by continuing to send wine to their customers and say their wine club is going stronger than ever.

But they're also seeing more and more people back in person, ready to taste what Escondido has to offer.