At the bottom of Goose Valley, below an ancient volcanic hill sits the Cassidy Family Estate, home to Barrel 1 Winery.
First planting Merlot grapes in 2001 the Cassidy Estate, with over 3,000 vines, has grown into one of the larger vineyards in the Ramona area.
Growing grapes and making wine for years, owners Tom and Audrey Cassidy along with winemaker Robert Garland firmly believe good wine starts with great fruit.
"Our focus is on the grapes, our wines tend to be fruit forward and full bodied, which we credit to awesome soil and weather. So much of the grapes character and flavor comes from the growing environment", claims Tom Cassidy. "Volcanic soil, extreme temperature fluctuations and mature vines produce high quality, rich grapes."
Early on, surprised by the quality, Garland researched geological surveys and found the vineyard was planted in a plume of volcanic soil eroded over the centuries from the mountain above the property.
"Stress from temperature swings and the consistent dry winds further contribute to the vineyard's grape quality", Cassidy notes. "It's quite similar to Napa Valley with growing season temperatures reaching into the 90's and falling below 50 at night."
Artisinal in everyway, from vine to bottle, each wine is made exclusively from naturally grown Estate grapes. "We have never used fertilizer, pesticides or fungicides in the vineyard" claims Cassidy. "Being farmers first, we baby our grapes, constantly monitoring irrigation water and plant needs."
Blessed with such great fruit, the winemakers at Barrel 1 do their best to gently shepherd the grapes through the wine making process. "We are picky about the grapes we process, constantly monitoring sugar and temperature levels through the picking and crush process", notes Cassidy, "we like to cool and rest the grapes a couple of days before adding yeast and starting fermentation. This really brings out the richness and flavor in the grape. After fermentation is complete, we allow the wine to rest on the skins for up to a week to further develop richness. After tank settling for a week and a couple of rackings to remove sediment, it is into the oak barrels for a few years of aging."
After patiently waiting years for the vines to reach the right level of maturity and the wine to barrel age, the Cassidy's proudly opened the Barrel 1 tasting room in April 2015.
Featuring 2011 and 2012 vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and their infamous Black Widow Merlot, the tasting room is centered on the Cassidy Estate which evokes a Tuscan ranch style atmosphere. 2013 vintages of dry white and rose wines are also offered.
"We hope our love for our property will show through" adds Audrey Cassidy, "sitting on the tasting terrace you overlook 12 year old merlot vines, horses in our pastures and a 400 tree almond grove frequented by hawks riding the daily air currents and owls hunting at dusk. I can't wait to share this with our guests."
So, if you're looking to do some wine tasting in San Diego then please consider paying us a visit. You won't be sorry!