JAMUL, Calif. (KGTV) - The Granite Lion Cellars in Jamul will break ground Wednesday on a new tasting room and wine cave, adding to their expanding vineyard and winery in the East County.
"We've been waiting for this for quite a while," says Tasting Room Manager Miriam Valdez. "I"m over the moon that it's finally happening."
The multi-million dollar expansion will help Granite Lion deal with the increase of customers they've seen over the past year. Sommelier David Whited says they've gone from about ten visitors each week to 150.
It's an excellent problem to have, and one that is spreading up and down Highway 94. There are now six wineries between Jamul and Campo, forming their own East County Wine Region.
"You don't have to go all the way to Temecula or Escondido," says Whited. "You can do it here, 20 minutes from downtown."
The new wine cave and tasting room are the latest sign that the region is gaining in popularity. The first tasting room in the area opened in 2014. Since then, wines along the 94 have won several awards and are starting to pull customers away from Temecula, Ramona and even Baja.
"As word gets out, people are coming here," says Whited.
"You arrive, and it's quiet," says Valdez. "It's away from the busy hustle and bustle of the city. You can enjoy nature. You can find a place here to rejuvenate and relax."
The San Diego County Vinters Association says there are 116 wineries across the county. A recent report showed they have a $50 million economic impact every year.
Whited says the geography in the East County allows vineyards to grow more flavorful grapes commonly found in Europe.
"There are two mountain ranges that filter in the marine climate into the valley here which sets us apart from anywhere else in San Diego," he says.
County Supervisor Diane Jacob is expected to attend Wednesday's event. Granite Lion says there's no time table for when construction on the new tasting room or wine cave will be complete.