Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Archive for the tag “drinking”

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers 

Outstanding draft beer selection at Red Robin!!

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Barrel 1 Winery 

Recently we visited Barrel 1 Winery and had an outstanding time! A beautiful sprawling, flat estate covering about 17 acres located at 1007 Magnolia Ave in Ramona. Supposedly the soil is “volcanic” and produces rich, high quality grapes. The dog friendly tasting room, which evokes a Tuscan ranch style atmosphere, is open Saturdays & Sundays 12-6pm. They have five wine varieties including a cabernet, merlot, muscat, etc. All were good and palatable. According to the gal running the tasting bar, all are made with local estate grown grapes. Not the most breathtaking setting, but cool and comfortable nonetheless.

After the tasting I wound up buying a bottle of their infamous Black Widow Merlot. Only 12.5% ABV, but very good and smooth. Amazing thing is, this is the first Ramona wine I’ve seen carried at Costco! Worst part was paying $9 a bottle more than the Costco price! However the visit to the winery was far more enjoyable than going to Costco, which usually gives me some degree of anxiety, dry mouth and occasional loose stool.






Vineyard Grant James 

Recently we visited Vineyard Grant James and had an outstanding time! Upon arriving I observed so many people I thought there must have been some private party going on. No. This place is just that popular. And despite the amount of wine folks there, we were treated so nice and personably! Tony was great – also met the gracious owners.At Vineyard Grant James they are strong advocates of wine blending. One single varietal can often be offensive or too intense, but with the proper blend the wines taste both smooth and complex. There is one white (Bellatrix) and a few reds. I tried several and nothing disappointed.  

They have a huge shaded stone veranda with misters to keep things comfortable during the heat. Ample seating, tables, etc. Not the most breathtaking vistas I’ve experienced, but a nice setting nonetheless, particularly with sweeping views of their vineyard. This place is so laid back and free flowing. Not at all rigid & tight like you’re being served by the winery accountant. 

One of the highlights was meeting Kim from “Cheeses from the Cave” and sampling some of her artisan cheese made right here in Ramona!  

Vineyard Grant James is located at 25260 East Old Julian Hwy in Ramona and is open Fri-Sun 12-5.




Turtle Rock Ridge Vineyard Winery 

Quick visit to another local winery. This time Turtle Rock Ridge Vineyard Winery. TRR came to fruition after the devastation of the 2007 Witch Creek wildfire. While growing grapes had always been an idea, now the land and space was cleared in order to make it a reality. For years the owners had studied different varieties of grapes and what would thrive in the Ramona Valley.

TRR is situated along Vista Ramona Rd and is fairly easy to find. Tasting area is huge with ample, comfortable seating. All shaded during the evening hours. They are clearly setup to handle larger groups and a multitude of visitors. I will say, not the most breathtaking views compared to other wineries in the area. I did appreciate their more flexible tasting options. $6 for 3 tastes, or $12 for 6 tastes.

Gail had a glass of the “Hello Love – White Wine Blend 2013″. She might have a remark below, I don’t know. I had a glass of the “Hello Sexy Winemakers Blend 2012”. 69% cabernet/31% merlot. It was outstanding, that I can tell you! I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, I just like saying “hello sexy”.


San Diego Sunshine 

So, Ramona has about 500 wineries, 1 microbrewery (unless you count my neighbors bathtub), and recently I had the pleasure of visiting our only craft distillery! San Diego Sunshine, located at 432 Maple Street in Ramona. They have a very cool tasting room open Thursday-Sunday from 12pm-9pm.San Diego Sunshine produces two varieties for sale (in 750 ML bottles); a Honey Wheat and a Blueberry Honey. Somewhat whiskey/rum like but cannot be labeled as such due to their distilling methodology. Both are 100 proof/50% ABV. I’ve had both and they are excellent! Smooth, strong, and you can really taste the honey and wheat. 

In their tasting room you can get a taster shot for $2 or one of about six creative mixed drinks for $7. Here’s what they call the “Red, White & Blueberry”. Highly recommended!

La Finquita Winery & Vineyard 

Let me start by saying I’m not a wine connoisseur, but I do like visiting wineries. We’re going to slowly start branching out into reviewing wineries. After all, it’s a fact that there are more wineries than taco shops in Ramona!Back in the day I visited and reviewed Edwards Vineyard & Cellars. This time we started close to home. Less than 10 minutes away is La FinquitaWinery, 23123 Vista Ramona Road. La Finquita, meaning “the little farm.” Not sure what language, but it sounds neat.

The property was originally developed in 1988 and subsequently established as a winery in 2007. The property was purchased by the current owners in December 2013, and reopened to the public as La Finquita Winery & Vineyard, Inc. on May 31, 2014.

We visited the tasting room which is open weekends, 11am-6pm, and during the week by appointment. A tasting of 5-6 varieties of wine costs $10-12.  

Might be hard to find depending on which way you’re driving in. Signage is fairly sparse. Once there you’re welcomed by a serene atmosphere with expansive views of the southern Ramona valley. Tasting room is large, modern, comfortable and accommodating. Staff is friendly and engaging.  

Gail, being new to wine in general, particularly appreciated this wine slushy thing they had called “Lucious Slushes”. Dispensed out of a slurpee like machine, it was all icy, etc. Perfect for the hot summer months approaching.  

There is ample, comfortable seating outside on their patio if you just want to stop by and hang out for a while with a nice glass of wine.  

I’m not gonna sugar coat it. The only wines I personally found palatable were the Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. I didn’t really care for any of the other choices which included a muscat; malbec; zinfandel; etc.

They also do custom bottle etching and I saw some pretty cool looking examples.  

As you can tell, I’m by no means a wine expert! With all the wineries in Ramona I don’t know where to go next. Comment and let me know if you have any tips or ideas. If they have food, that’s of course a plus!

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