Our Story

Arman-Rayan-picutes

Pretext

Our story started when I, Houman had to leave Iran and move to Turkey at age 14 due to ongoing endless Iran-Iraq war. After completing my high school and starting medical school, I found the love of my life, Nedret and our destiny brought us to the land of opportunity, United States. After medical training in New York City for a few years followed by New Orleans, we decided to migrate further west to sunny Southern California in pursue of perfect climate to raise our children. (2008)

First Act: Dahi Family Vineyard (2015)

Our adventure in growing grapes and later winemaking started in 2014 when my dad expressed interest in a family farming project for retirement and I also was looking to find a get away from intense working hospital environment. I remember around the same time, I happened to listen to a program in local radio talking about evolution of new hidden wine country in backyard of San Diego. Bill Schweitzer, one of the founders of Ramona Valley Wine Country, was speaking about how a landscaping project led planting grapes to replace water thirsty avocado groves and birth of a new American Viticulture Area. After visiting few vineyards and wineries in the area, it became clear to us that we want to own a piece of this paradise. We eventually purchased a burned avocado grove, just off the Highland Valley Road which conveniently happen to be few steps away from Bill Scweitzier’s Vineyard. With our neighbor Bill’s kind guidance and with the help of our friend Micole Moore, who is owner of Ramona Ranch and Vineyard, we rehabilitated our land by removing all the burned stumps, planted Sangiovese and Syrah vines that have been well adjusted to Southern California climate. Over next few years, we expanded further and added Petite Sirah and planted a total of 2200 vines.

Our Story Act 2
Our Story Act 2 Grapes
Our Story Act 2 Awards

Second Act: Winemaking! (2017)

After producing quality fruit for few years and reading several books in wine making, attending few courses, I started experimenting with wine making. I learned invaluable information by attending Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) ‘s monthly meetings. During these meeting, farmers & winemakers met and shared their wine and farming experience and receive constructive criticism from each other which helped to elevate the quality winemaking in San Diego County. Once we started producing decent wine ourselves, in order to further validate our progress, we submitted our wine to local wine competitions which as a pleasant surprise, ended up getting great results.
Our Story Act 3 Wine Barrels
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Our Story Act 3

Third Act: Winery (2020)

Despite enjoying wine making, and getting reasonably good results, due to my job obligation as a physician I was still more leaning toward selling our crop to wineries. However, with pandemic causing temporary closure and difficulty finding buyer for our fruit, we had no option but leaving fruit on the vine or making wine with them. We end up deciding to hire an experienced winemaker to produce larger quantity of premium wine and gradually warmed up with idea of opening a tasting room as a way to sell directly to consumers and have them discover great wine and experience Ramona Valley’s hidden paradise.

Our Team

Andrew Wisniewski (Winemaker)

Born and raised in Upstate New York.  His interest in wine developed early as his mother managed a fine wine shop, in which he loved spending time wandering up and down the isles, fascinated by the labels from around the world.  During his studies in Biochemistry/Microbiology, he had an internship at a local winery in Central Florida that changed his career trajectory and ignited his passion for winemaking.  Since then, he has worked in Australia, New Zealand, Oregon (where he obtained his degree in Enology and Viticulture and spent 5 years as a Cellar Master in the Dundee Hills of the Willamette Valley).  Prior to his move to San Diego, he was winemaker for 7 years in Washington State where he garnered acclaim earning 50, 90+ scores from major wine periodicals culminating to being named In Wine & Spirits Top 100 wineries in the World for 2019.  He is excited to bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to help this exciting region of San Diego County.

Our Team

Joaquin Sanz (Hospitality Manager)

Born Joaquin Sanz in the city of Zaragoza, Spain, home to the grapes ¨Cariñena¨ and the most widely produced red wine of Spain, Garnacha,” “Joaco,” as he is known affectionately, was immersed in wine from the moment of his birth. After graduating as Juris Doctor in the university, he started a position as Sales & Marketing Director in a new winery. From then to now, his career has been related to the Wine Industry from different perspectives: managing wineries, producing TV and radio shows, writing about wine and gastronomy, and teaching for ten years in various sommelier programs.

 

In 2015 Joaco moved to San Diego, CA, with his wife and two sons. Joacos expertise in Wine Industry, DTC, and digital marketing qualified him to lead the Hospitality, Tasting Rooms, and Wine Clubs for wineries in Ramona and Temecula Wine Country.

 

Our Team

Houman Dahi, MD (Farmer, Assistant Winemaker, Owner)

And everything else…! When I took on the task of planting a vineyard, I thought that this would be a great future retirement project and would help me get over my physical and mental stress of working long hours as intensive care physician. It did not take me too long to realize all the hard work that goes into farming and wine making. However, the physical exhaustion related to farming has not stopped me from enjoying this experience, and I have learned to appreciate the harmony of nature. I have come to know that premium wine can only be produced from exceptional grape which can be achieved by dedication to hard work in vineyard.

Houman Dahi

Our Team

Michael Tesarek (Tasting Room Staff)

Michael Tesarek has worked in many capacities of the wine industry for over 20 years including, retail, wholesale and direct sales. He’s entirely self-taught in the wine business having visited hundreds of wineries mostly throughout western Europe in addition to wineries in the U.S.  He has a strong desire to never be satisfied with knowledge that has been gained and looks forward to sharing his experience and knowledge in the tasting room with customers at Sky Valley Cellars.