I grew up in Orange County, California, and not once in all those years did I ever hear my home county referred to as “The O.C.”
A popular television series changed all that, however, and the abbreviated nickname has become widely known and accepted.
That’s probably all well and good, considering that oranges disappeared from Orange County a long time ago, save for a rogue grove hidden among housing tracts and strip malls.
And now, there’s another contender for fruit preeminence in the O.C.: the grape. Specifically, wine grapes.
No, the county is not suddenly being overrun with vineyard plantings. Target stores are not being replaced by Tempranillo vines, and McDonalds locations are not being closed to make room for rows of Malbec vines.
However, at least 10 wineries have joined the county’s landscape, and collectively form what’s billed as “The O.C. Wine Trail.”
The “trail” forms a semi-circle around the communities of Irvine and Laguna Hills, and includes:
- Cowboy Canyon Winery — 16162 Jackson Ranch Rd., Silverado. 714-202-0212. www.cowboycanyonwinery.com
- Frisby Cellars Winery — 20331 Lake Forest Dr., C-3, Lake Forest. 949-243-6691. www.frisbycellars.com
- Giracci Vineyards & Farms — 16162 Jackson Ranch Rd., Silverado. 714-602-1109. www.giracci.com
- Hamilton Oaks Winery — 29943 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. 949-364-2063. www.hamiltonoakssanjuan.com
- Laguna Canyon Winery — 2133 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach. 949-715-9463. www.lagunacanyonwinery.com
- Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery — 2128 Mesa Dr., Newport Beach. 949-645-0273. www.nbwine.com
- Orange Coast Winery — 869 W. 16th St., Newport Beach. 949-645-0400. www.orangecoastwinery.com
- Orange Coast Winery / Ocean Cellar — 3734 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar. 949-877-0336. www.orangecoastwinery.com
- Pozzuoli Vineyards & Winery, 15481 Red Hill Ave., Suite C, Tustin. 714-258-8817. www.pozzuoliwinery.com
- Rancho Capistrano Winery, 26755 Verdugo St. #100, San Juan Capistrano. 949-284-0657. www.ranchocapistranowinery.com
Most of the wineries source grapes from various California growing areas. Rancho Capistrano Winery actually ships in grape juice and skins (must) from around the world, then transforms the raw materials into wine at its winery and tasting room, located just steps from Mission San Juan Capistrano. In its first, year, Rancho Capistrano produced varietal wines and/or blends from France, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Chile and New Zealand, in addition to the western United States.
With grapes — whether grown locally, or their must shipped in from far-flung locales — becoming more prominent in Orange County, perhaps the time has come to change the county’s nickname from “The O.C.” to “The G.C.”