Next time you fire up the corporate jet in your worldwide search for the ultimate wine, you might want to reflect on something that could inspire you to stay on the ground. The good stuff, once considered a plaything for the leisured few, is available in serious quantity and at a decent price to the working stiffs you so callously underpay. Soils that yield decent grapes are found on every continent except Antarctica, and today, wine is sold everywhere in the solar system (except on Mercury, in capitulation to its startlingly arid conditions and overarching liquor laws).
Take San Diego County. We have more than 30 wineries in these here parts, owing chiefly to our varied topography and microclimates. A visit to the wine bar at downtown's San Diego Wine & Culinary Center will yield more information about them—better yet, for a paltry $7, you'll get to suck down a three-glass flight of the best our area has to offer. Julian's J. Jenkins Winery is handsomely represented by its Chardonnay, and Fallbrook Winery (the county's largest) holds forth with an award-winning Cabernet. But don't even think about leaving until you've tried Orfila Wineries' Gold Rush Zinfandel from 2005. Orfila, located in the San Pasqual Valley south of Escondido, has everything to crow about when it comes to this wine—it's as smooth and full-bodied as reds get, from here or virtually anywhere else.
The center changes the flight choices daily, and it has a million other wines from around the county and the world, all of which await at 200 Harbor Drive, across from the Convention Center. The tasting bar is open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.