Orfila Vineyards & Winery
An ultra-premium, small production winery nestled in the picturesque San Pasqual Valley, located just 30 minutes from San Diego, between Interstate 15 and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The tasting room and patio overlooks the 70-acre estate. Our tree lined family friendly picnic area features grassy knolls and picnic tables. Orfila produces critically acclaimed wines using Italian and French varietals, including those from the Rhône Valley, Burgundy and Bordeaux. We source our grapes from both the estate and select vineyards from Sonoma, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties. Our winemaker, Andrew Wisniewski, carries on our tradition of making award-winning wines in San Diego County.
Since it’s opening in 1994, Orfila Vineyards has been the recipient of more than 1,300 medals in national and international competitions – a testament to the complexity, grace and opulence of our wines.
Orfila wines are available to purchase in the tasting room, in our online shop, at select wine merchants and restaurants, through membership in the Orfila Wine Lovers (OWL) Club.
Orfila Vineyards Day in San Diego County
September 19, 2006, was proclaimed Orfila Vineyards & Winery Day in San Diego County by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. The proclamation applauds our award-winning wines, history of innovation and sustainable agriculture, and success in putting San Diego on the international wine map!
San Diego was California’s First Wine County
California’s multi-billion dollar wine industry traces its roots to San Diego County. Father Junipero Serra established San Diego de Alcala, California’s first mission located about 23 miles south of Orfila Vineyards and Winery, and planted vines there in 1769. Grapes have been growing at this location since 1973, initially as the San Pasqual Winery and then as Thomas Jaeger Winery. Orfila Vineyards and Winery was established in 1993 when Proprietor Ambassador Alejandro Orfila purchased Thomas Jaeger Winery.
Orfila Vineyards is a 70-acre estate that grows premium wine grapes in the San Pasqual Valley, located in a 10,000-acre agricultural preserve owned by the City of San Diego. The picturesque hillside estate is 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 500 feet. The cool ocean breezes and morning fog create classic wine growing conditions.
Extensive research and experimentation has resulted in the current successful vineyard configuration. Because of such attention to detail and appreciation of the best way to use this land, Orfila Vineyards has astounded the wine industry with the quality of wines produced with San Diego County grapes.
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In 2009, Orfila Vineyards & Winery lost our founding winemaker and friend, Leon Santoro. Santoro is largely credited for putting San Diego County on the international wine map. He understood all aspects of the San Pasqual Valley terroir and changed the emphasis of the vineyard from predominantly Chardonnay to Rhône style varietals. Ambassador Orfila notes Leon as the first in the region to recognize the vast potential for Rhône style wines, having determined that the soil conditions were similar to the Mediterranean region. More than 40 acres of the Orfila estate are now dedicated to Syrah, Sangiovese, Merlot, Montepulciano, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne grapes.
During his career at Orfila, Leon and his team produced exceptional award-winning wines, proving that fine wines could indeed be produced in Southern California. Leon was an important member of our community and will be remembered for his vision and passion for wine making, a legacy that will live on at Orfila.
Winemaker Andrew Wisniewski maintains dedication to our estate to ensure that the vineyard will continue to produce wines of exceptional quality. To date, our winery has been awarded more than 1,300 medals in national and international wine competitions and has been favorably reviewed in many prestigious wine publications.
On October 25, 2011, Orfila Vineyards & Winery lost a valued employee and friend, Benjamin Zaragoza. Benjamin has been a beloved part of the Orfila team since it’s inception in 1993. Whether he was hand-constructing Orfila’s stone walls, tending to our beautiful Estate Vineyard or leading tractor rides at our annual Grape Stomp, Benjamin would always pause to greet you with a friendly wave and a smile. He will be greatly missed.
Proprietor, Orfila Vineyards & Winery
Alejandro Orfila was born in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1925 to a family that has been involved in winemaking for four generations. In 1905, his grandfather established Jose Orfila Limited, a winery that still exists today in Argentina. Although he chose a career in diplomacy (his father was governor of the Argentine state of Mendoza), he never lost his interest in viticulture. Orfila studied Law at the University of Buenos Aires. Later, he studied political science at Stanford University in California and foreign trade at Tulane University in Louisiana.
In 1946, he was nominated Embassy Secretary in the Argentine Foreign Service and served in many different embassies and consulates of Argentina. He was appointed Argentine Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States and served in that post until 1960. That year he was appointed Argentine Ambassador to Japan where he remained until he retired to private life in 1963. For the following ten years, Ambassador Orfila acted as a consultant in the field of international finances and economic affairs, based in Washington, D.C.
In November 1973, Ambassador Orfila was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Argentina to the United States and served in this capacity until July 1975. At that time, he was elected to his first term as Secretary General of the Organization of American States by its General Assembly and re-elected to a second five-year term in October 1979.
After his retirement from the Organization of American States, Ambassador Orfila re-entered the business world as a consultant and investor in the field of international finances and real estate. In August 1989, Ambassador Orfila and his wife, Helga Leifeld, moved to Rancho Santa Fe, California, where he engaged in real estate and community activities and purchased Orfila Vineyards & Winery in April 1994.
Ambassador Orfila has been decorated by a number of European, Latin American and Asian governments and has received honorary degrees from universities in the United States and Latin America.