Temecula Wine Country is near San Diego, just off of Interstate 15. It has been growing for many years and since we began visiting in 2009 it’s has become even bigger and seems busier every time we go. It has a great Old Town with shops & restaurants that perfect for strolling after a day of wine tasting, or even during the day. There are two main roads, Rancho California and Deportola Road, where most of the vineyards are located, but there are several growing on the off shoot roads.
Our first venture into Temecula was in December of 2009. We have been back numerous times and find new exciting wineries on each visit. This area is perhaps the nearest wine growing region to Las Vegas so it was an easy place to start our exploration of wine country and our chronicling of our adventures.
We created our own Winery Pages, creating a chronicle and history as we went to follow along with the growth of Temecula, learning more about the terrior involved, when & why they began growing grapes here and why more vineyards followed. We will explore the wine maker’s visions and even how they promote their wineries. It’s all about chronicling the grape…from dirt to glass or maybe even further back to when they were just an idea in an aspiring wine dreamers mind.
This part of California, located in Riverside County is noted as the Citrus/Vineyard Zone. The Temecula AVA was established here in October of 1984 and was renamed the Temecula Valley AVA in 2004. The growing season here is from March to September and typically they have little rain worries during the harvest. The valley sits a little more than 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean and the cooler coastal air passes through the Rainbow and Santa Margarita Gaps to create sunny days and cool nights which are perfect for the grapes.
The varieties grown here are wider than you would expect!
You of course find Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Viognier, Syrah, Pinot Gris
Rhone varieties like Grenache also do well here as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
There are several wineries doing Sparkling Wines here, at least two in the Method Traditional.
Newer wineries are growing Semillon, Malbec, Vermentino, Primitivo and Sangiovese.
Temecula is busy. There are no two ways around it. The wineries here have events every weekend and the tasting rooms fill up. If you like it active and busy, the weekends are the time to go. If you prefer a little more breathing room, then hit Temecula wine country during the week.
If you are coming on a weekend check out the events that are happening. You will find that many of the wineries have live music on the weekends. In addition there are special tasting, pairing and blending events as well as girls night craft parties, wine and painting parties chef demos, musical dinner and pairings…you name it, Temecula is doing it!
Many of the wineries also have tours. Most have a small fee (some have a bigger fee) and all include tastings. If you are a wine geek, this is a great way to learn more about wine, wine making styles and techniques and the individual wineries.
Great food is all around. Many of the wineries with weekend music also have at least light foods, cheese platters etc. Some have full restaurants (many of which are VERY good).
With multiple balloon companies you can choose to start your day with a tour of the vineyards from above! The owners of California Dreamin’ are also the owners of Vindemia Winery. Most of the rides take off from one vineyard and land in another the direction is dependent on the breezes. Many include breakfast and a champagne toast, some at wineries either before or after. Even if you are not taking a balloon tour it is wonderful to get up in the morning and watch them flying overhead.
There are multiple companies providing horseback riding wine tours! These get you outside and riding in the beautiful California Countryside and include tastings at 3 or 4 of the Valley’s wineries! Of course if you prefer to travel not on horseback there are plenty of options. If you are looking for fun and hanging with a group then there are companies with Shuttles, vans, jeeps and hummers, as well as more private tours in Limo’s and town cars. You will find every style, from private tours for the connoisseur where you meet the winemaker, to party buses filled with people looking to drink great wine and party!
Accommodations run the gamut from luxury spa resorts to private Inn’s among the vines to completely comfortable and cost effective national chains near Old Town.
We have assembled some insights into these Temecula Winery’s check them out.
Old Town Temecula is a destination unto itself with great places to eat, galleries, shops and wine tasting rooms.
The Farmer’s Market is open Saturday’s from 7:30 amd to 12:30 pm in Old Town.
Events in Old Town include Rod Run in early March, as well as Western Days in May.
Mad Madeline’s Grill is an Old Town Temecula Institution. On Front Street in Old Town they offer 21 different varieties of hamburgers. The meat is ground daily and everything is fresh fresh fresh! They are known for their milkshakes, malts and root-beer floats.
Dining Choices include: Public House, Baily’s, Gambling Cowboy, Public House, Palumbo’s, Soro’s
Wine Tasting rooms: Lorimar- still has a downtown tasting room in addition to their new winery in wine country. Villa Di Calabro, Fazeli also have tasting rooms located in Old Tonw
In addition there are multiple antique shops, an art gallery, salons and specialty foods.