Press Release

San Diego County Winemakers Take Home More Medals for Outstanding Wines

Ramona, Calif., June 24, 2016 – San Diego County winemakers picked up more medals for outstanding wine at the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) Awards Dinner for the 2016 RVVA Lum Eisenman Wine Competition on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 held at the San Vicente Resort. Awards were chosen from entries of red, white, and rosé wines made from grapes grown in San Diego County.

The judges awarded best of show, best of show amateur to:

Best of Show: Highland Valley Vineyards – Syrah

Best of Show Amateur: Julian Winery – Estate Syrah

Fifteen wines received gold medals, including:

Ramona Valley

Cactus Star Vineyard at Scaredy Cat Ranch
  • 2013 Two Dogs Barking Syrah
  • 2013 Estate Scaredy Cat Ranch Meritage (Cabernet Sauvignon 88%, Petite Verdot 8%, Malbec 4%)
  • 2015 Two Dogs Barking Viognier
Hellenback Ranch
  • 2013 Ranchers Red (Cabernet Franc 60%, Petite Verdot 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%)
  • 2015 Viognier
Ramona Ranch Winery
  • 2014 Aglianico
  • 2013 Estate Tannat
Hatfield Creek Winery
  • 2014 Happy Daze (Petite Sirah 53%, Zinfandel 47%)
Mahogany Mountain Vineyard & Winery
  • 2011 Syrah

Highland Valley

Espinosa Vineyards & Winery
  • 2014 Reserva Esepecial, White (52% Grenache Blanca, 44% Rousanne, 4% Moscatel)
  • 2014 Merlot (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon 10%)
Highland Valley Vineyards
  • 2013 Syrah
Altipiano Vineyard & Winery
  • 2014 Estate Sangiovese
Domaine Artifact
  • 2014 Mourvedre Rose
Urban Winery

San Pasqual Winery

  • 2015 Rose of Cabernet Franc

Jay Bileti, Vice President of the American Wine Society, who was one of the judges, said, “I was surprised and pleased to see so many excellent wines from the relatively unknown wine region of San Diego County. Most of the wines were well-made and won deserved medals. It seems that through trial and error or accumulated knowledge, vintners are figuring the best varieties to grow in the warm San Diego climate. Some of the proven warm viticulture varieties—Tempranillo, Petit Sirah, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, and Syrah—showed particularly well.”

The Lum Eisenman Wine Competition, chaired by former Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) president, Bill Schweitzer, was created to give individual winemakers constructive feedback on their techniques and results and to improve winemaking throughout the Ramona Valley.

Schweitzer commented, “We were pleased to see an increase of entries this year and believe it represents the expansion of outstanding grape growing and winemaking here in San Diego County. I am particularly proud of the representation from our Ramona Valley winemakers.”

Special Speaker: Master Sommelier Frederick Dame

Speaking at the awards ceremony this year was master sommelier Frederick Dame, one of only 200 people to have passed the Master Sommelier’s Diploma exam since its inception 40 years ago in the UK. Dame, who was one of the participants in the documentary film SOMM about preparing to take the Master Sommelier Exam, encouraged the Ramona Valley winemakers and grape growers. “You are where Napa was in the 70’s, and you are having fun doing this. Enjoy the journey Ramona, go all in, and keep working together.”

Experienced Judges

Double-blind tasting by eight experienced judges included:
Specialist Judges
  • Jay Bileti, VP, American Wine Society, Arizona
  • Carol Nowak, Finger Lakes International (NY)
  • Alex Morrison – Perfect Pairings (Carlsbad)
  • Maurice DiMarino – Cohn Group (San Diego)
  • Mike Menghini – Menghini Winery (Julian)
  • Justin Mund – Orfila Winery (Escondido)
  • Steve Kahle – Woof-n-Rose Winery (Ramona)
  • Michele Parente – San Diego Union Tribune, Wine Columnist

About Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA)

The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) was founded in 2001 “to promote, protect and enhance the Ramona Valley AVA, our wines, vintners, and community.” The RVVA was largely responsible for creating the Ramona Valley American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2006 and the sponsoring organization for the effort to create the Boutique Winery Ordinance in 2010. Current President: Micole Moore. For more information see:

Lum Eisenman

Lum Eisenman, was born and raised in Riverside, Calif. A physicist by profession, he migrated to Del Mar in 1971 with his wife. From youth he was an amateur winemaker, and became a mentor for San Diego vineyard owners, and the founder of the San Diego Amateur Winemaking Society—and he is always a teacher. He has written dozens of articles and The Home Winemakers Manual is considered an authority by many throughout the United States.