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Vista Florist Dos Gringos Finds a Place in the Sun

The North County powerhouse continues to grow within a tough industry
Ariana Drehsler
Dos Gringos - Jason Levin

Dos Gringos founder and CEO Jason Levin

Ariana Drehsler

Dos Gringos does things a little differently than most cut flower facilities.

Founder, owner, and CEO Jason Levin explains that most sunflowers are grown for their oil and seeds, like those in Ukraine’s now-spotlit sunflower industry. Sunflowers grown by Dos Gringos and its contractors in the US and Mexico are used solely for bouquets and other aesthetic purposes. In fact, Levin believes they were the first and are now, perhaps, the largest ornamental sunflower grower in the world.

When he started the company in 1986 (“actually, it’s only one gringo, but dos gringos just sounded better,” he says), the affable, easygoing Levin decided to go all-in on this one hefty bloom for an important reason: It’s native to North America, so no matter how the flower industry changed, the company’s growing practices would at least be, he says, “aligned with mother nature.”

Dos Gringos - facility

The inside of Dos Gringos’ flower facility in Vista

Ariana Drehsler

This is no small feat considering that the cut flower industry, unofficially headquartered in California, has heavily reshuffled its growing fields to Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, Ethiopia, and other countries over the course of the last 30 years. Levin says there are only “maybe five or six” flower companies of comparable size to Dos Gringos still headquartered in San Diego County, and that the rest are contract or small farms.

Dos Gringos - event space

The Kitchen inside the Field House event space in Rancho Santa Fe

Dos Gringos’ US headquarters and main processing facility is in an industrial park in Vista, where every west-facing window has an ocean view; they have a second processing and shipping hub just outside Valle de Guadalupe. The company primarily sources from their contract farms in San Diego County during the warmer months, and from various locales in Mexico that can produce sunflowers year-round. They also offer in-house design services for their clients, genetic patenting and seed sales, and a swanky event space in Rancho Santa Fe called, naturally, the Field House.

“The cut flower industry is a tough one,” Levin freely admits, especially considering the cost-cutting measures his competitors take, like outsourcing further to Africa or South America, which he isn’t willing to do. He feels strongly about his workforce, its ties to San Diego, and the natural climate advantage offered by growing in Mexico and Southern California.

So doing things differently has worked out for them. It’s even in their motto: “Different by design.” In fact, Levin claims with a smile, if someone is buying sunflowers in a supermarket in San Diego County, “they almost certainly came from Dos Gringos.”

Dos Gringos - Sunflower bouquets

Two employees assemble sunflower bouquets

By Jackie Bryant

Jackie is San Diego Magazine's content strategist. Prior to that, she was its managing editor. Before her SDM career, she was a long-time freelance journalist covering cannabis, food/restaurants, travel, labor, wine, spirits, arts & culture, design, and other topics. Her work has been selected twice for Best American Travel Writing, and she has won a variety of national and local awards for her writing and reporting.

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