Let’s start with a quick introduction to you and your business.

Nelson Pizarro is a father of four, former ex-professional soccer player, entrepreneur, soccer coach, winemaker and I would say the most interesting is that I don’t even drink wine. I taste and spit – to me I just enjoy the whole aspect of growing the grape, created it in to alcohol and then watching guest enjoy what took you years to make!

What is the background story that led to your business today?

My wife and I got married in Dec. 2008 at a local winery in San Diego called Cordianos. The owners Gerry and Rose befriended us and told my father-in-law Mike since he has land in Ramona, he should plant a vineyard. The deal would be that if we grow grapes he would purchase them if we didn’t want to make our own wine. Well, my father in law thought that was a great idea and asked me if I would help him plant the vineyard. We had no idea how to grow grapes, make wine, or even how much grapes we would produce with the land we planted. It was more of a trial and error for us. We created a great bond with local winemakers that helped us craft our wines and every year we learned what NOT to do… haha. As we started to release our first vintage our family friends, mentors and random people told us that our wines were good and we should start selling the bottles. 13 years later we have 3.5 vines planted, a 1,600 sqft indoor cellar, 7,000 sqft outdoor tasting patio, bocce ball court, pizza hut and award-winning wines from top wine competitions like SF Chronicle, Finger Lakes and even in the Wine Enthusiast magazine.

What is your business philosophy and/or what do you wish to share about your business?

I would say we grow about 90% of our grapes from our estate wines. We do a lot of varietals like Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Viogner, Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Pinot Noir which would be our specialty wine. We like oaky wine aged in the barrel between 24-32 months and then resting in the bottle for another 1 or 2. We want the guest to enjoy rich, flavorful, aromatic and smooth wines!

Tell us about your wine. winemaking techniques, grape source or vineyards, varietals, unique qualities and/or philosophy?

For our Estate wines we are all about barrel aging. If the wine isn’t ready then we are not rushing it. It can even be aging in the bottle for 1-2 years before we share it with anyone.

Do you have any achievements or awards you would like to share?

We have won numerous awards like Gold from the SF chronicles to receiving 92 points “editors choice” from the Wine Enthusiast.

What are your goals, dreams or aspirations for your business?

The biggest one would be to stay consistent and always have an array of wines that guests say “wow all these wines are good – I haven’t tasted one bad wine”. Also, I would like to grow to be the biggest San Diego winery here.

What do you like the most about what you do?

I enjoy working with vines and the people that I get to meet.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?


What is a common question you are asked and what is your answer?

How did you start the winery? – I tell them the story of how it all started.

When you are not at the winery, what do you like to do?

Going to soccer fields and watching our kids play, the beach or anything with the family.

If you weren’t in your current occupation, what might you do?

Something in business.

Outside of visiting your business, what other place/s to visit, eat, stay and/or things to do would you recommend to a visitor to your area?

I would say Farmhouse 78 restaurant which is East about 20 mins from us and to stay I would recommend The Ranch at Bandy Canyon.

What is special about the place and the people from the area where your business is located?

We have two options to enjoy our wine. One inside in our air-conditioned cellar and the second on our outdoor patio where you overlook the vineyard and mountains. I would say 99% of the people that come are so friendly and just want to be in a low-pressure family feel winery.

Anything else you would like to add?

If you ever want to stop by you have to make sure you drive through a gated community.

What wine varietals do you offer?

Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Petite Verdot, Viognier

Who is your winemaker?

Nelson Pizarro

What amenities do you offer to your visitors?

Views, outdoor/indoor seating, vineyard views, tours, dog & family friendly, wedding & event venue, snacks or food for purchase & outside food welcome.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your amenities or unique features of your business?

Our space is perfect for parties like corporate, birthday, baby showers or anniversaries

Any Upcoming Winery Events or Promotions?

We have nothing set up at this time because COVID has put us in an unsure place with when things shut down or stay out.

Thank you Nelson for sharing your story with us.

Be sure to visit Castelli Family Vineyards and taste Nelson’s award-winning wine.

Business info:

Castelli Family Vineyard

Address: 17870 Oak Grove Road, Ramona Ca 92065

Phone: 619.997.5141


Email: [email protected]

Owners: Mike Castelli and Nelson Pizarro

Open:  Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm – sunset

Reservations: Walk-ins welcome, Reservations encouraged

Grape Adventures Santa Barbara

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