An 800-acre East County housing development near the Barona Resort and Casino comes with an unusual perk for buyers – a chance to have their very own vineyard on their property and wine that carries their own private label.
Where other upscale developments might come with a private country club as an amenity, Trevi Hills by Pacifica Companies based in Mission Hills has Trevi Hills Winery.
“It’s a country club without the aggravation,” said Michael Larranaga, director of winery operations and a certified sommelier with the French Court of Sommeliers.
People might have a bad day on the golf course, but “nobody has a bad day at the winery,” Larranaga said.
Plans call for 250 homes in the gated development and nearly 500 acres of open space.
So far, 20 homes have been sold and 15 are under construction, said Matt Deal, project executive director.
The homes range from about 2,500 square feet to about 3,900 square feet and are priced from about $769,000 to more than $1 million, Deal said.
Lot sizes range from one acre to 2.5 acres.
Most of the homes have three bedrooms and a den with 2 ½ bathrooms and a two-car or three-car garage, Deal said.
There’s also an option to add a granny flat.
The homes are single-level built in what Deal called a Tuscan style in a nod to the wine-making region of Italy.
“The best wine in the world comes from Italy. We have a Mediterranean climate so our theme is Tuscan,” Deal said.
There also are 18 lots atop a bluff on what Pacific Companies calls the Sky Terrace that are being sold as vacant lots for between $600,000 and $1.1 million, Deal said.
Buyers can contract with Pacifica Companies to build a home on the lots or bring in their own contractors, Deal said.
The development steps up a hillside.
“Once you come up the hill from Wildcat Canyon Road, all you see is the vineyard. It’s almost like driving into Tuscany,” Larranaga said. “The views are insane. The sunsets are gorgeous.”
The property is served by the Lakeside Water District, Deal said, so homeowners don’t have to worry about digging their own wells, and it has sewer service, with natural gas provided by San Diego Gas & Electric.
The development also has fiber optic cable.
The winery at 1310 Muth Valley Road is across the street from the housing development on Muth Valley Road and home buyers can opt into a cooperative the winery offers.
The winery will plant vines on the home owner’s property, prune them, harvest the grapes and use them to produce the wine.
The homeowners can do as much or as little of the work in tending the vines as they want.
“We split the yield with them,” Larranaga said. “That pays for the barrels and the processing and all of that stuff.”
Trevi Hills Winery includes a 3,000 square-foot building that has a tasting room and patio that overlooks Muth Valley, bocce ball courts, and a fire pit.
There’s also a natural amphitheater in the hillside and Pacifica Companies is adding an outdoor area for weddings and community gatherings.
Homeowners who opt into the winery cooperative must dedicate at least 1,000 square feet of their property to the vines.
“This is perfect landscaping for them. They don’t have to do the weed whacking. We do it for them,” Larranaga said.
The homeowners have to buy the rootstock, trellises, bird netting, deer fencing and irrigation systems for the vines that are planted on their property.
That costs about $29 a vine, Larranaga said.
They also have to pay for the water used to irrigate the vines, which Larranaga said comes to about $48 a month for the four months that the vines are irrigated.
“Unlike usual plantings, we try not to water vines. We try to starve our vines. That way they have to work down and find the ground water. That makes them a lot stronger,” Larranaga said.
So far, every home buyer has opted to have vines, Larranaga said.
San Diego is just a beautiful growing area, especially here where we are,” Larranaga said. “We have that beautiful marine layer that comes up the valley.”
Typically, the homeowner vineyards have from 50 to 350 vines each. Average wine production is two bottles per vine, although Larranaga said this year was exceptional with production reaching about four bottles per vine.
“The fun thing is, if they want, they can take it all home with them or we can store it for them. Then, when they have company, they can call us and we’ll run it down to them,” Larranaga said.
Planted in 2013 with the first harvest in 2016, the winery grows “pretty much south Mediterranean varietals,” Larranaga said.
That includes Syrah, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon grapes. Recently added were Grenache, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Merlot grapes.
“We’re making some really nice wines now and I’ve learned to appreciate wine,” Deal said, adding that he’s become somewhat of an aficionado since he took on the Trevi Hills project.
“I can tell the difference between different kinds of wines and I enjoy it,” Deal said.