Temecula Valley Vineyards

Temecula Valley Vineyards

Not far from busy I-15, in what was once a sleepy commuter community for San Diego is what has become Southern California’s own Napa. The Temecula Valley has been a wine-growing region since 1966, and it’s warm temperatures and relatively dry geography has been the perfect spot to establishing the growth of varietals such as Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel among others.

With sunny skies and the proximity of both Los Angeles and San Diego visitors, the Temecula Valley is a strong weekend draw, with quieter tasting experiences offered during the week. A diverse selection of wineries makes tastings unique.

Wiens Family Cellars is the spot to experience reds. The winery offers an enjoyable tour and a pretty patio for picnicking, but it’s the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that are the main draw. A family operation, winemaker and patriarch Doug Wiens claims forty-six extended family members are a part of the production team. The Cabernet wines produced here are intense and rich, with the 2013 Dolcetto, tangy with notes of cranberry and cinnamon, an especially enjoyable taste. The 2012 Refugio combines Cabernet and Merlot to stellar effect, with notes of black plum, blackberries, nutmeg, and coffee. Tastings are offered in the ample, warm, woody main tasting room as well as the Cellar Room, where seated tastings include a flight of limited production red wines.

At the Vindemia Winery, this award winning producer of handcrafted Zinfandel, Cabernet, and Syrah offers tastes in a laid-back atmosphere. The outdoor tasting room is a great spot to enjoy expansive views of the vineyards. Visitors can also take tours of the vineyards themselves and oak sampling. And along with the wine, there’s freshly harvested olive oil available to purchase and taste. Wine tastings include complimentary bread and olive oil, adding to the convivial atmosphere. The Ruby Royale dessert wine, with a potent 18.8% ABV is a vibrant vintage with floral hints. The 2010 More Cowbell Zinfandel is fresh, light, dry, and altogether unique.

Monte Deo Oro Winery is a communal affair, owned by some sixty-eight families and committed to environmentally sustainable growing methods. In fact, the winery is committed to careful canopy management and yield control. The large tasting room is a great spot to enjoy Zinfandels such as the vintage estate grown 2010 Zinfandel, which is 75% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah and 10% Petite Sirah. Light fruit notes of strawberry and raspberry, with dry hints of vanilla and anise, are the signature of this smooth wine. Whites do not receive short shrift here, either. Particularly pleasurable is the 2011 Viognier, redolent of apricot and Meyer lemons, with a floral as well as a citrus finish. Dry, but with a touch of sweetness, this pretty light gold vintage is among the winery’s must-tastes.

One of the first wineries established in the region Callaway was started by golf legend Ely Callaway Jr. In the 1960s. Today, the winery holds six medals from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. From limited edition Cabernets to Syrahs, the reds are strong and memorable; white wines such as Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are light and crisp; with the 2013 WR Late Harvest Chardonnay exhibiting sweeter citrus notes.

With a wide variety of vineyards to visit, beautiful weather, and unique regional tastes, the Temecula Valley has come of age for oenophiles.

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