Wine grapes
Wine grapes from the cover of the San Diego County Vintners Association report.

San Diego County’s status as a wine region was bolstered last week by a report that the 115 local wineries generate a $50 million economic impact.

That was the conclusion of an analysis sponsored by the San Diego County Vintners Association and covering 2017. The report found the local wine industry had $26.1 million in gross sales — a a 9.4 percent increase from 2016 — and directly supported 557 jobs — a 7.3 percent increase.

“Our wine industry is going gangbusters right now and has emerged as a significant player in our local economy,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose district includes Ramona and other winery hotspots. “I see a real can-do spirit among our vintners and the county will continue to do all it can to encourage this growth.”

The report found that 1,210 acres are planted with wine grapes and 2,783 tons were harvested in 2017. Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah led the harvest, followed by Merlot and Sangiovese.

San Diego wine making has a long history, dating back to Father Junipero Serra’s planting of wine grapes shortly after founding Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769. The region has numerous microclimates and terrain which are ideal for wine grape cultivation.

“Our winemakers work hard throughout the year to produce diverse, high-quality wines, many of them award-winning, to showcase that San Diego County is becoming an important region for California wine production,” said vintners association President Ed Embly, owner of Hungry Hawk Vineyards in Escondido.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.