Putting Down Roots, Highland Valley Vineyards In Escondido

by Malinda Romine | July, 11, 2018
Malinda Online: One Woman’s Wine Journey


Ray Schnorr and Jeannine O’Brien are the owners and winemakers at Highland Valley Vineyards. They are also genuinely the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to know. They ooze friendliness and joy, and have a way of putting people at ease just by being themselves. My partner and I met them one evening, last October, in a Sensory Awareness class at San Diego State University. Thomas, an American expat living and working in Switzerland, took an interest in Ray and Jeannine, as their primary business takes them to Germany regularly, in addition to being pioneers in the burgeoning local wine industry. Jeannine took an interest in me, as a Winery Representative for Orfila Vineyards. She hit me up for a wine donation, and I said yes. We were all in class with a shared interest, and open minds.

Their tasting room is closed during the week, but they invited us up for a private tasting. A couple days later, I swung by work and picked up some wine. My sweetheart and I took San Pasqual Valley Road east and made our way up Bandy Canyon. From a distance we could see a lone little craftsman style house on a hill. To my delight, this house was the private residence that sits above the micro winery and tasting room of Highland Valley Vineyards.

Ray and Jeannine met us and laid out a complete tasting of their wines. Superb reds, made with locally grown fruit, coupled with Ray and Jeannine’s warmth and smiles, turned us into instant fans. We bought several bottles to take home, and Thomas signed up for the wine club waiting list. They were gathering emails but had not yet established their wine club. We met Nate the Great, their huge male yellow lab, surveyed the hillside, half covered in vines, and enjoyed the valley view.

So much has transpired since then. We’ve shared meals, wine, baseball, travel stories, Christmas Market, laughter, gossip, grief, and friendship. Ray and Jeannine got their wine club (Club Bungalow) up and running and Jeannine studied for and passed her Level 1 Sommelier test. Highland Valley Vineyard is soon to have one of their wines published in Wine Enthusiast. I was promoted to Marketing Coordinator at Orfila Vineyards, served on the Marketing Committee for the new Escondido Wine Alliance. Thomas and I got a puppy. Nate and Max have since enjoyed multiple puppy play dates and get along swimmingly.

Back in June we were invited to help plant their vineyard… READ MORE and see all of the pictures!

Reprinted with permission.
Malinda Online: One Woman’s Wine Journey

For more information about all of the awesome wineries in the Escondido wine region, please visit our Wineries page!

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