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San Diego Sunshine

I always enjoy flying to the west coast, not the actual 6 hour flight, but the fact that we can depart the east coast early in the morning and still arrive with a full day to enjoy.  Such was the case this past week when we headed out to San Diego.  After an 8:30am EST. flight we were on the ground by 11:00 am PST.  Following the obligatory stops at the baggage carousel and the rental car office, we were off to the Gaslamp Quarter for lunch.  After a quick lunch at Los Panchos de Charly, an excellent Mexican restaurant, we decided to tour all the Gaslamp Quarter had to offer.  The Gaslamp Quarter is located in the heart of downtown San Diego and it is an area that has gone through a major renaissance and now boasts many restaurants and shops that cater to tourists and the convention center crowds.

 One of the first shops we came too was the Wine Bank.  Located at 363 Fifth Ave, the Wine Bank offers thousands of different labels from Silver Oak to a 1978 Robert Mondavi Magnum Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are plenty of offerings to tempt the palate.  Originally opened in the 1960’s, the Wine Bank has recently gone through a major renovation and visitors are sure to enjoy walking through the large climate controlled wine cellar in the basement.  They also offer wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays or by group reservation.  For more information you can check out their website at

 The following day it was off to the USS Midway museumThe USS Midway is a retired aircraft carrier that is docked near downtown San Diego and is open for tours.  During the self guided tour you will see approximately 60 different exhibits and 25 aircraft.  The tour takes you from the engine room up to the bridge and everywhere in between.  If you are visiting San Diego and have the time, I would definitely recommend the tour. At $18.00 per person it’s not overly expensive but be sure to plan on spending at least 2 hours on the ship.  If you plan on visiting the USS Midway you can find more information on their website at










After the USS Midway tour we headed out to the Hotel del Coronado.  Built in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado or “Del”, is one of the most unique and beautiful hotels in the country.  While the nightly rate can be a little more than some would like to spend, a walk through of the hotel and beach is free and a great way to spend the afternoon.  The Del offers 12 different restaurants including the ENO wine bar.  The ENO wine bar offers guests the best in wines, rare cheeses and gourmet chocolates.  They also offer special events including Tasting Tuesdays, “Say Cheese” Wednesdays, Bubbly Thursdays, and $5 dollar Fridays. For more information on the Del and ENO visit their website at

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That night we visited Little Italy for dinner.  I have to admit that I am very wary when I eat Italian food anywhere other than home.  Every region has its specialty when it comes to food and I believe that the New York metro area has some of the best Italian restaurants in the country.  That being said, we did have a good meal at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto.  Filippi’s is a very old school Italian restaurant.  You enter through a store front and make your way to the back where there are red checkered table cloths and a very basic atmosphere.  Of all the restaurants we walked by, this was the only one that had a line out the door.  Throughout our whole visit, the line never got shorter!  While the food is not New York Italian, it is very good, the sauce, meatballs and sausage are all homemade and the portions are huge.  A dinner for four including a bottle of wine is very reasonable, anywhere from $80-110 depending on what you order.  They have several locations throughout California, including Napa Valley.  For more information visit their website at










The next morning we were off to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which is located approximately 45 minutes northwest of downtown San Diego in Escondido.  The Safari Park is a breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo.  A basic ticket to enter costs $37.00 and includes access to all the shows and a 30 minute tram tour called the Journey into Africa.  This tour takes you through an area that houses many different types of African plains wildlife.  There are also many exhibits that you can walk to throughout the park. The area is very large and it can take several hours to see everything.  For more information you can visit their website at:

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Our next stop was the Orfila Winery which is located 5 minutes from the Safari Park.  The Orfila Winery is a great way to end your visit to the park.  Opened in 1994, the Orfila Winery produces award winning Rhone-style wines from grapes grown at their vineyard and estate which is located 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Wine tastings are $10 per person and include the glasses.

 Below is a partial list of the wines we tasted while visiting Orfila Winery:


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2007 Estate Sangiovese

“These grapes are grown on the gently sloping hillsides of the Estate Vineyard, are a stellar example of this famous Italian varietal. Ripe cherry & strawberry fruit with subtle cedar and spice notes coat the palate, with fragrant vanilla and maple on the finish. Enjoy now or cellar three to five years.

We purchased the Sangiovese, it was one of our favorites and had a very reasonable price.

 2007 Estate Ambassadors Reserve Merlot

“The Ambassador’s Reserve is the flagship Merlot, rich and refined with flavors of cherry, mocha, and blueberry with hints of violet. Aged in French oak barrels for two years. Enjoy now or cellar three to five years.”

2008 Ambassador’s Reserve Chardonnay

“This Chardonnay is a rich and creamy wine which was barrel fermented in 100% French oak. Beginning with ripe green apple in the nose, followed by luscious tropical fruit and pineapple on the palate, and finishes with toasted French oak and vanilla flavors. Enjoy this Chardonnay well chilled!”

This enjoyed the Chardonnay and purchased it.













If you’d like to visit the Orfila Winery, they are located at 13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido, CA92025. You can also visit their website at

After the winery it was off to our next adventure, be sure to check back next month for part 2.  Until next time Salude!!

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