Ramona is a city that I stumbled upon by accident. I was looking for an Airbnb in San Diego and the only thing available was in a town called Ramona. I was desperate to stay somewhere that wasn't a hotel and booked the Airbnb the night before my arrival.
Ramona is only a short 30 miles from San Diego airport, so the drive was an easy one. But little did I know that it was going to be in a beautiful valley. After I got off the freeway, the valley was gorgeous and it made the drive go by really fast.
I arrived at the Airbnb and the hosts were waiting outside and showed me around the guest house. The room was spacious with a kitchen and free wifi. The bathroom was also equipped with all the necessities. They even had a huge heated swimming pool and jacuzzi overlooking the valley, which I took full advantage of.
Initially I had no plans to explore Ramona, but that quickly changed. Since I only had one weekend to explore, I decided to visit two of the Vineyards that were just a couple miles away.
First, I want to tell you a little bit about my experience at this Airbnb. Yuko (the host) was so awesome. She was kind enough to introduce me to all of her farm animals. She had chickens that were friendly and lambs that looked like they were still babies. But I was told that they were full grown and that they were a breed that remained small. The lambs and chickens roam around during the day when the owners are out with them, but at night they put them in their cages due to coyotes and hawks.
I'm not sure if she does this for all her Airbnb guests since it wasn't something that they advertised. But I got the feeling that she genuinely enjoyed having guests and liked having company.
Ramona is quite the hidden gem. In 2103, the San Diego Boutique Winery Ordinance legalized many of the mom-and-pop wineries to welcome guests to their properties for wine tastings. Many of the owner's at these mom-and-pop wineries have day jobs (or are retired) and have these vineyards as a second job. However to the owners, it's more of a passion than a job.
Vineyard #1 Highland Hills Winery
18545 Rangeland Road, Ramona, CA 92065
Saturday & Sunday 12PM-5PM
The entrance to this vineyard was beautiful and you pass by their lovely house as you drive to the parking area. I walked into the wine tasting room and there were a couple of people in there. I was greeted by the owner who looked like he had just come in from working in the vineyards. His daughter-in-law was at the counter serving wine and was super friendly.
You really get a personalized experience here, since the area is not touristy at all. They gave me a history as to why they started making wine and how it's grown. You pretty much get to chit chat with the owners for as long as you want and can ask them anything. They grow everything themselves, so if you have any questions they were obviously very knowledgeable. So much interesting information and the tasting was only $10. What a deal!
Vineyard #2 Kohill Winery
17211 Highlander Drive, Ramona, CA 92065
Saturday & Sunday 12PM-5PM
You can basically wine hop to the different vineyards since they are all so close. It's a fairly small community so the various vineyards pretty much know each other. Kohill had a fairly large crowd, but still plenty of seating. I decided to hang at the bar area and talk to the owners. They were super friendly and even offered to take pictures for me.
The wine tasting was $10 here as well and I also got a little extra of their off menu wines. I loved all of it and ended up purchasing a bottle to take home with me. They even threw in a wine opener, since I wasn't sure if my Airbnb had one.
I only had time to visit two vineyards, but there are plenty of vineyards to explore in Ramona. I'll probably try to make a trip once a month, since it's an easy and beautiful 45 minute drive from downtown San Diego. Crazy how the scenery and area changes in just 30 miles.