So, you want to go wine tasting in Temecula, California - but there are so many wineries - what's a wine lover to do? Tell me - are you interested in a few tastes at really great wineries? or are you interested in eating a great meal as well? Either way, your palette won't be disappointed.
Due to our unique climate, Temecula is most amenable to the Italian reds. A climate that is warm in the day, cool at night, with the ocean breezes and misty mornings, which I have been told is the perfect combination for the Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet, and Barbera grape varietals. What does this mean to you? It means that one does not need to drive eight hours up the coast to Napa or Sonoma to taste fine wine or to fill your cellars with pricey "brand names." A tour of Temecula Wineries is just the thing to get you in the spirits for this holiday season.
The best day to go wine tasting is Monday through Thursday. Come on a weekend, if you must; but wine tasting on a weekday will all but guarantee that you will actually get more out of your tasting experience than arm-wrestling with a limo full of tipsy bachelorettes jockeying for elbowroom at the tasting bars.
For the most relaxing, yet sensory experience - I highly recommend starting with an early lunch at Ponte - one of my favorite outdoor lunchtime spots. GREAT food, excellent wine pairings. Then, you can either taste at the lovely tasting room there, or move on to some of the others.
South Coast Winery is truly a destination in and of itself. It boasts a fantastic, sweeping landscape - villas where one can enjoy all of the pampering of a 5 star spa - and a heated pool to bask in the sun while sipping Chardonnay. Their dining experience is a must for a night on the town, save for the cheesy player-less piano music - and you can book ahead for private or patio dining. This is a fabulous way to end up your trip if you don't want to drive home. For day tasting, however, the tasting room is a bit cavernous; though their wine is is spectacular, don't get me wrong. I am a huge fan of the Cabernet, the Ruby Cuvee (a sparkling Syrah). Plus, I have many friends who work there, which makes the whole experience quite pleasant.
Wilson Creek, at the far end, just redid their tasting room - I haven't been there, but their dessert wines are delicious. Almond Champagne, and their dessert wines, such as port is a must try. The grounds are flower filled and the tasting room has just been updated.
Stewart Cellars offers a fantastic Cabernet, among other things, and has the feel of one of the "old" Temecula wineries. The staff is quite knowledgeable and you might learn a thing or two while sipping.
On your way out, I'd definitely give Hart a try - it's very small, but OLD Temecula, one of the first wineries, and the owners are usually mulling about. GREAT Barbera - and other rich, Italian reds. Talk about old Temecula!
Remember, always have a designated driver, or look up a ride from one of the many places to stay in town. The Grapeline offers stops at wineries throughout - or you can plan a private tour through DesTem.com.
For more information, a private tour, or a tasting-buddy, don't hesitate to leave me a comment!