By the numbers
627Acreage Under Vine (Acres)
254Acreage Under Vine (Hectares)
California’s first vines intended for wine production were planted in San Diego County at Mission San Diego de Alcalá. The county, however, has never exceeded more than 809 ha/2,000 acres under vine. Its viticultural peak was just before Prohibition. Now, a full century later, plantings are finally on the upswing again. Total vine plantings, however, are still only at 254 ha (627 acres), about one-third of what they were in 1920. There are 203 licensed wine-grape growers.
Agriculture is extremely important in San Diego County. It ranks as the nineteenth largest farm economy in terms of U.S. counties. The county is strongly oriented toward small farms, with more farms of fewer than 10 acres than any other county in the nation. San Diego County also ranks first where part-time farmers are concerned.
San Diego County is one of North America’s most diverse wine growing regions. This is largely due to the county’s varied terrain. Wine grapes are grown at sea level, and also at altitudes of up to 1,280 m (4,200 feet). There are vineyards with a climate strongly moderated by the Pacific Ocean. There are also vineyards far from the ocean with desert climates.
This combination of low vine-acreage and diverse terrain and climate mean that it’s not very useful to generalize the county overall as a grape-growing region. However, roughly a third of all county wineries, and most of the vine acres, are associated with either the San Pasqual Valley AVA or the Ramona Valley AVA, both within the larger South Coast AVA.