Temecula Wine Region
California is the most famous area in the US for wine making with regions from north to south producing quality wine. But there is more to California wine than just Napa Valley and Sonoma County and while those wines are fabulous, do not be afraid to discover different wine regions. For example, we absolutely adored Santa Barbara wine region – fantastic wine, gorgeous scenery, and affordable tastings. Just an hour outside of San Diego lies another wine region, Temecula, which makes for a perfect day trip.
Like many wine regions in the United States, Temecula wine region was established recently in the late 1960s, granted AVA designation in the 1980s, and now there are over 40 wineries. Due to the it’s location more inland, warm climate grape varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, and Merlot.
In my research I was surprised how many wineries were so well rated! Knowing we only had a few hours in this area so narrowing the choices was tough – until I remembered we were here with locals! Rather than guess, they came prepared with a short list of ones they have been to and wanted to try – win win.
As we drove out and approached the area, the desert landscape slowly began to change. The once flat land bent into hills lined with vines, though the desert dirt remained.
Our first stop was Doffo Winery, started by an Italian winemaker and has a large collection of grape varietals. Since the tasting set up was a bit awkward (tasting for two only) and expensive, we each picked a glass to enjoy. I have to say, I was a bit surprised at the price point of the tasting, glasses, and bottles. It felt competitive to Napa/Sonoma but I don’t think you can compare the two – the wine was good but its not that level. Perhaps it is because Temecula is local for not just San Diego, but accessible for LA as well so perhaps this region is more of a boutique flare.
By the time we left, it was insanely hot – and we were not here for very long! Without the ocean breeze we were just baking on a sheet pan.
Our next stop was Gershon Bachus Vintners, one that Lauren and Ben have visited in the past with positive experiences. The grounds here were beautiful – set atop a hill, the sweeping views were reminiscent of other wine regions.
The tasting here was really fun! For $20, you get an hour tasting experience with a minimum of six wines to try – and I say that because it seems like a practice here to give additional tastings off menu. Wines here were well made with some stand out favorites. We even took a bottle home for our cheese night the next day. The price here was more reasonable and a good value given the time spent and amount of wine in the tasting.
While I had a bunch of wineries marked, we decided were satisfied with our time in Temecula and started our journey to Joshua Tree National Park.
In case you are planning a visit yourself, here are a few more wineries I had marked for future visits: Danza del Sol, Leoness Cellars, Palumbo Family, Ponte, and Hart
Additional recommendations for this area include: Bean Coffee Roasters Temecula, Wiens Brewing, Refuge Brewery, EAT Marketplace, Le Coffee Shop, and Garage Brewing Co, and Aftershock Brewing
If you have any favorite wineries or recommendations in Temecula, please share them in the comments!