Through our collective efforts, we strive to promote, protect and enrich our Ramona Valley AVA with integrity, education, continual improvement and mutual respect.
We pride ourselves on producing and serving authentic Ramona Valley wines, with a shared passion for enhancing and preserving our agricultural heritage for generations to come.
To make Ramona Valley a world-class wine destination:
by producing high quality wines from grapes reflecting Ramona Valley AVA’s strengths and characteristics — handcrafted by San Diego County winemakers
by presenting the wines via hosts with a breadth of knowledge, within our unique and interesting venues, resulting in an overall excellent experience
Strive to make world-class wines, aided through group-sponsored wine education and support
Generate marketing tools to enhance our Ramona Valley AVA’s reach and reputation
Create and maintain an effective organization that supports our members, as well as our local community
History of the Ramona Valley Winery Association
The RVWA was formed in 2006 by the same group that established the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association in 2001. The first meeting of area vineyard owners was organized by Bill Jenkin and Frank Karlsson in January 2001. Approximately 14 people attended and decided to start meeting on a regular basis; the Ramona Vineyard Association started meeting at members’ homes once a May 2003 – A committee of the Vineyard Association submitted an application to the US Department of the Treasury for designation of the Ramona Valley as an American Viticulture Area. The group was led by Bill Schweitzer, owner, Paccielo Vineyard, along with two other sponsor members: Richard Carrico, principle, Moody and Associates and John Schwaesdall, owner, Schwaesdall Winery. Researchers included Schweitzer, Carrico, Andy and Carolyn Harris, and Victor and Beth Edwards. The application was signed by the owners of 25 area vineyards.
• January 2006 – An area of 89,000 acres in the Ramona Valley was designated by the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) as a recognized AVA. Eight wineries were licensed at the time in the AVA; but there was still only one open to the public: Schwaesdall Winery, which had obtained its major use permit in 1997. In the decade since Schwaesdall Winery opened, the bureaucratic process to obtain a permit to open a winery to the public in the agriculture areas of San Diego County had escalated to a five-year $250,000 endeavor. This was in addition to the expense of installing and maintaining a vineyard, and building and equipping a winery and a tasting room. In other words, the new AVA was dead on arrival, unless the County regulations were changed.
A New Winery Ordinance = Renaissance of an Industry
• 2006 – Ramona Valley Winery Association was formed and appointed an Ordinance Committee composed of Carolyn and Andy Harris, Beth and Victor Edwards, Mike Kopp, and Don Kohorst. The San Diego County Farm Bureau immediately joined in and provided the respected expertise of their Executive Director, Eric Larson, who joined the RVWA in presenting a proposal to
Supervisor Dianne Jacob for a new four-tiered winery ordinance, modeled after other California Counties supporting the wine industry. The team’s work was later supplemented by land use legal specialist Felix Tinkov.
• October 2006 – San Diego County Board of Supervisors directed the County DPLU staff to work with the RVWA and the Farm Bureau to investigate options that would allow boutique wineries to expand and operate successfully by right without burdensome regulations. Vineyard Association leaders also supported the efforts of the Winery Association with presentations at County hearings. The Ordinance Committee continued its research, drafted suggested ordinance provisions, made presentations to many County Community Planning Groups, and got to know all the Supervisors, their staff, the County advance planning staff and supervisors, and the Planning Commissioners.
• April 2008 – The San Diego Board of Supervisors enacted an amendment to the County winery ordinance, based on a “mitigated negative declaration” environmental review, removing the major use permit requirement for boutique wineries operating under 16 itemized conditions and May 2008 – The “San Diego Citizenry Group” was formed by one or more Ramona residents forthe purpose of initiating legal action against the ordinance. They hired the Coast Law Group and issued a notice of intent to sue the County if the County enacted the ordinance without first preparing a full-up environmental impact report. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors rescinded the new ‘Boutique Winery’ provision, and authorized a $260,000 two-year project to complete a countywide environmental impact report.
• August 2010 – SD County Board of Supervisors approved a four-tiered winery ordinance, based on the completed environmental impact report. At this time 16 wineries were licensed in the AVA, and when the new ordinance became effective in September, they had the option to modify and conform their operations to the requirements in place to open to the public as a right of agriculture.
• September 2010 – The Citizenry Group filed suit against the County in the Superior Court of California, alleging that the County did not properly follow the California Environmental Quality Act in the preparation of the EIR. In April 2011, the Superior Court denied the challenge, finding that the EIR was sufficient to support the Supervisors’ action enacting the new ordinance.
• June 2011 – The Citizenry Group filed an appeal to the California Court of Appeal, again on environmental grounds. The San Diego County Counsel successfully defended the appeal, and in July 2013, the appellate court upheld the ordinance.
• December 2012 – Recognizing the divergent priorities and values of the upcoming new phase of the Vineyard Association, the RVWA separated their organizational ties, and in June 2013 registered as a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation.
• October 2013 – The period for final appeal expired and the case was final. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors recognized the milestone by issuing a proclamation, naming 18 October 2013 as RVWA Ordinance Committee leader “Carolyn Harris Day” to celebrate “many years of advocacy on behalf of all wine grape growers.”
THE NEXT CHAPTER
• April 2015 – There are 28 wineries licensed in the AVA; 20 are open to the public. More than 100 wineries are licensed in San Diego County.
• April 2016 – There are 30 wineries licensed in the AVA; 24 are open to the public. More than 114 wineries are licensed in San Diego County.
Board of Directors: