All posts by Russ Connelly

Russ has been visiting and writing about San Diego County wineries since 2002. His first wine tasting experience was in the Hunter Valley AVA of Southeastern Australia, just outside of Sydney. Once he returned, he dove deeply into the California wine scene and has visited most wine making niches of our great state. His yearly treks to Northern California wine areas of Amador County, El Dorado County and Lodi are legendary. Although he roams the state, his roots pull him back to San Diego County where he has a fond appreciation for the hard work and detail that each winemaker has shared with him both verbally and in the glass.

New San Diego County Wine Tasting Room

Congratulations to Malcom, Nancy and Michael Gray on the grand opening of their new wine tasting room and production facility in San Marcos!

Twin Oaks Valley Winery recently celebrated their grand opening weekend in March with over 200 guests on Saturday alone!  This was a family affair with several family members on board for the weekend’s festivities which include live music and food both days.

Yet another fine winery in San Diego’s North County pouring several year’s releases of many different varietals and blends.  You can find them Fridays through Sundays at 1575 Mulberry Drive in San Marcos.

San Diego Winery Showcase

Congratulations to the members of the San Diego Wine Country Association on another fine event held recently on the grounds of the Bernardo Winery.  A dozen local wineries, including some without tasting rooms or local sales presence were on hand to pour one or two of their featured wines.

For a few vintners, this is their only means of getting the word out about their wines as well as giving long established wineries a chance to reach out to long time friends and customers all at the same time.  Good to meet some new folks who are new to the San Diego wine scene.

It was also good to see grapes on the Bernardo Winery grounds.  It is always amazing to see vines and grapes growing in the middle of a housing subdivision!

Grapes at Bernardo Winery 2014
Grapes at Bernardo Winery 2014

For more information on San Diego County Wineries, Click Here.

Out of the Lake: Old Highway 178 and the town of Isabella

Long before the Isabella Reservoir was built in the 1950’s, State Highway 178 passed through the Kern River Valley on an alignment much different than it is today.

With the current drought, Lake Isabella is a puddle of what it used to be…but it’s amazing what the lake has hidden all these years.  The lake has not been this low since 1977 and is the second lowest level since the dams were finished in 1953.

In April, I took two trips back to the areas near where the original towns of Isabella and Kernville stood before the lake covered them and their history.  Unfortunately during my visit, the actual townsite of Isabella was still under several feet of water but the remains of the trees that use to shade the town are clearly visable sticking out of the lake in several photos.

Map to April 2014 photos

Pre-Lake Isabella Alignment 2.1_Page_1b

location 1
Location 1


Location 2 – Notice the high water mark
location 2
location 3


Location 3 - Kissack Cove
Location 4 – Kissack Cove


Location 4 - Paradise Cove
Location 5


Location 6
Location 6


Location 7 – 1940
Location 7 – 2014


Location 8 - 1940
Location 8 – 1940
Location 8 - 2014
Location 8 – 2014
Location 8 -2014


A sign of the times.
A sign of the times…very dry indeed.
Isabella Auxiliary Dam 2014. Eerie to drive at the base of the dam when there should be 50 feet deep water here!


Thanks to Joel Windmiller for his assistance and historical photos of Old Isabella.