When Kit and Karen Sickels founded Milagro Farm in 2001, they envisioned a private countryside retreat with a vineyard to produce wine for their own personal use. “Milagro” is Spanish for miracle and that miracle is what this amazing 110 acres of farmland and vineyard has become in the last fourteen years.
Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery is the largest winery and vineyard in Ramona Valley and the third largest in San Diego. Nearly 3,000 cases of wine are produced annually, nearly all from estate grown fruit. With the addition of two local partners and a new winemaking overseer, Hugo D’Acosta, hailing from Valle de Guadalupe, plans include growing and making wines solely from estate grown grapes. Per Barb Winstead, assistant general manager, Milagro’s new philosophy is “to take what nature gives you”.
The bucolic setting is peaceful, and incredibly picturesque. The landscape is dotted with massive granite boulders and its two tranquil ponds are surrounded by tall marsh grasses and live oaks. Ducks leisurely swim by and roosters crow lustily from a nearby barnyard.
Our tour guide Megan Creed, a wedding and event planner at the vineyard pointed out large, grassy areas among towering shade trees where weddings are held. It is no surprise the number of nuptials taking place at Milagro doubled in 2015. The setting could not be more idyllic.
Olive trees planted on property now produce Milagro’s own brand of olive oil. Organic gardens provide fruits and vegetables used by local San Diego restaurants and further expansion is underway.
The Old Crush House, a vine-covered, shuttered Tuscan-style building with massive wooden doors from Mexico was the original site of the vineyard’s grape processing. Its stone-built Wine Cave is literally carved into the side of the hill. This rustic, barrel-filled, fascinating site is used today for weddings and other special events. Having lived in Italy, we can truthfully say the Crush House and its grounds have a Tuscan authenticity that made us feel as if we were back in the Old Country celebrating family and life with the fruit of the vine.
While wine preferences are individually unique, to our delight, we both favored the 2012 Estate Merlot – smooth, surprisingly full-bodied and robust, with aromas of fruit and dried herbs and flavors of cherry and red fruit.
“And now, here comes the finishing treat – our specialty” said Dylan from behind the tasting room bar, “Milagro’s Lavender Spritzer” an intriguing blend of estate grown Aleatico Port, lavender syrup, soda, white and brown sugar, orange zest, finished off with an orange citrus wheel. This was one unique, dessert wine aperitif sporting a rich lavender nose, refreshingly balanced citrus and floral undertone and a smooth, palatable finish.
The warm, relaxed atmosphere of the tasting room and patio set the tone for patrons comfortably chatting with one another, about wine, food, and other enjoyable topics. The sense of teamwork and upbeat camaraderie of Milagro’s staff was evident throughout our visit. Barb, the assistant manager echoed their sentiments proclaiming “These are exciting times for our family here at Milagro. We have some great changes coming with our vineyard and we’re thrilled to be part of it”.