Updated: Apr 19
Many of us have been living and breathing by our technology during the Pandemic. Zoom meetings are essential and watching reruns of “The Office”, “I Love Lucy” and “Seinfeld” admittedly helped many a soul get through some tough months. Using our tech devices has been a lifeline, but has also brought about increased anxiety, Facebook fights and Twitter wars. This summer the Unplug Collaborative is helping San Diego become an Unplugged Village, and to find the spirit of having fun again. Gnomes have been hiding out during the Pandemic just waiting to be discovered. This May, take a little time to unplug and recharge while participating in a gnome scavenger hunt with some of the wineries in the Ramona and Escondido valleys!
Wherever you spot a gnome-- that’s a good place to unplug and unwind.
If you've never been to the Ramona region you may be surprised to find an amazingly large network of family-owned wineries, just a quick 30-40 min drive from San Diego (or 2 hours from LA). These unpretentious wineries feature outdoor tasting rooms which are ideal for social distancing and showcasing unique, award winning wines in serene settings. Visiting a winery in Ramona is like taking a step back in time where days are enjoyed at a slower pace. As you go through town, you can enjoy the old western style buildings followed by winding roads en route to the vineyards where you’ll find boulders as far as the eye can see and grapevines whose tiny buds are emerging, proving that Spring is here and Summer is finally on it’s way.
Eight wineries are participating in the scavenger hunt with gnomes hiding and clues posted about each winery. See below for an outline of the hunt.
Start out on the east end of Ramona, picking up a free smartphone bag and scavenger hunt instructions at Correcamino’s Winery. Visit with the owners
Doug and Sue Robinson and see if you can guess Doug's prior occupation while you locate a road runner. If you like succulents and getting creative, on May 22nd you can join their succulent workshop (11:30 to 1pm). See HERE how to sign up. You may notice an RV or two in the parking lot while you are here. If you happen to own one, you might inquire about the Harvest Host program. This neat little program lets you camp out in wineries and other unique locations for a reasonable annual fee plus the cost of a bottle of wine at the winery (this is how my husband and I discovered the Ramona wineries in the first place!). Correcamino's is one of four wineries in Ramona participating in the program currently.
After visiting Correcamino's, swing on by Barrel 1 and see if you can spot “Sherlock Gnomes” relaxing at the Tuscan Ranch style Cassidy Estate at Barrel 1. If you get a chance to talk with the owner Audrey Cassidy, you can try to solve their clue about why there is a picture of a Black Widow spider on some of their wine bottle labels. You might be surprised at the answer.
Heading over to the South side of Ramona, you can try to spot “Gnomeo” hanging out with the giant granite tortoise monolith at Turtle Rock Ridge. They have many wine and tasting room awards and feature a lovely large outdoor patio with extended hours of service for this area. Bring your own picnic or better yet, when you get there, let Marinade on Maine deliver food to you at the winery (order at the winery). I am a fried chicken convert and think they have the best fried chicken dinner on the planet!
On May 2, forget about your phone while you keep your hands busy creating a one-of-a-kind bracelet and learn about the sustainable practices and certified wildlife habitat of Ramona Ranch. Sample their fine award winning wines on their lovely tasting terrace. Look for the "Gnome Ranger" and find out what creatures used to live there in abundance before it became a winery.
Next you might head over to Escondido to try out some of their hidden winery gems. For the adventurous at heart, take the windy road up to Old Survey Vineyard. Here you will meet the owners Rosie and Jerry who will tell you about the history of the area while you relax and stare at the mesmerizing hawks that circle over the San Pasqual Valley. Note - If you are breaking up your winery visits, you might want to take Highway 15 to get to Old Survey and then make your way east to the other locations.
Traveling through the rolling valleys of boulders, oak trees and grapevines you will come upon the modern Speckle Rock Winery. Inspired by the valiant 'speckled' granite boulders left standing after the fires in recent years, the name was chosen as a symbol of endurance through tough times. The tasting patio provides the most amazing views overlooking the historical San Pasqual Valley. Look for their gnome "Falanghinome" and try their newest wine the Falanghina at their release party May 1 (12-6) when you can also enjoy live music and a food truck.
Heading back to the West side of Ramona, on May 15 or 16th, be sure to stop in to visit Schwaesdall's where John and Shirley can tell you about their winery.
Schwaesdall is home to the first winery in Ramona
John started making wine from some of the old vineyards in Ramona that were planted in the 1950’s. Come visit Sir Chester and Lady Camilla copper pigs and enjoy a lovely view of the vineyards, rock formations, statuary, and Iron Mountain. See if you can spot “Patrick Schwaezdy”, find out what their tasting room is REALLY made out of, and make a gnome wine bottle topper to take home on either of those days.
The wineries can be visited in any order you like although you should start at Correcamino's to get your instructions and then ideally end at Principe di Tricase. If you love nature and animals, you might like to discover the many peacocks (even a white one!), ducks, bunnies and other critters that happily reside at Principe. This family-friendly spot is home to the Gallone and Sepe families, from Naples Italy. Creators of free range children, animals, Christmas trees and fine natural Italian wines. Enjoy Italian finger foods served here and tea or coffee from the new Mad Hatter Tea Shoppe. Explore their gnome gardens and see how many gnomes you can spot. Turn in your stamped scavenger hunt card and enter to win a prize. We'll be raffling off a mini gnome garden and Unplug Relaxation kits!
How does the scavenger hunt work?
Participants can register for this free event HERE - become a member to get all the details, times, find the starter clue and the address of the first stop.
Scavenger Hunt Kick-off begins May 1, 2021 at noon. Go to Correcamino's to pick up a free smartphone bag*, an instruction sheet with addresses and card to get stamped at each stop. *Bags available while supplies last.
At each stop you’ll find a clue - It may be a multiple choice question or a riddle.
Find hands-on activities or live music throughout the month - RSVP required -see the website for activities (make a bracelet, succulent planter or gnome topper).
Event goes the entire month of May - so take your time visiting the stops.
Once you have visited them all, take your stamped card to Principe di Tricase- to get a BOGO coupon and enter the raffle to win a prize (gnome garden, relaxation kits etc). Winners will be notified to pick up their prize after May 31.
Wear your masks and practice social distancing please!
Wineries participating in “the hunt” include: Barrel1, Correcamino’s, Old Survey, Principe di Tricase, Ramona Ranch, Schwaesdall, Speckle Rock, Turtle Rock Ridge.
Thanks for supporting these small businesses!
Special thanks to our Sponsor Mark Garrow Ramona Realtor for supporting this event!
This event is being hosted by the non profit Unplug Collaborative - home of the Unplugged Village and the National Day of Unplugging (NDU). NDU is an awareness campaign that elevates human connection over digital engagement. For over a decade NDU has engaged more than 135,000 people who have participated in events hosted by over 1,000 schools, religious institutions and businesses from 38 countries.
Interested in finding out how to make your community an Unplugged Village? Contact Claudia Erickson email@example.com