I only recently heard of Orfila Vineyards and Winery in Escondido, but they have a rich history. In 1973, the San Pasqual Winery started growing grapes and producing wine there. The winery was later purchased by Thomas Yaeger Winery. In 1994, Alejandro Orfila bought the winery, retaining Yaeger’s winemaker Leon Santoro who had been their winemaker since 1991.
Executive winemaker Don Reha welcomed me to Orfila. Don took over as winemaker six months ago after the passing of Leon Santoro. Reha has an extensive resume in the wine industry, having started at Fetzer Winery in 1988. He has also spent time making wine at Renwood and Cline and is still making wine at Thornton Winery in Temecula.
This is a great opportunity for Don and he is excited about it. He inherits approximately 50 acres of grapes – Syrah, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne. Orfila makes quality wines. I thought their “Lotus” Viognier with small amounts of Marsanne and Rousanne was wonderful. They are perhaps best known for their estate grown Merlot, and have been selling Merlot futures for many years. I also enjoyed their estate grown Syrah.
Don looks forward to putting his stamp on Orfila wines. He won’t tinker too much with what is already a quality product, but the wines will show his devotion to the craft. He also plans on “cleaning up” several of the lengthy wine names, some of which are quite a mouthful.
I toured the grounds and was struck by how lovely the property is. There’s a huge grill and brick oven outside, and while I was there they were setting up for a wedding. There’s somewhat of a mystical feeling to Orfila. I hope you get the opportunity to experience it.