There is no better time to visit California’s Temecula Valley Wine Country than right now. 2018 marks the wine country’s 50th anniversary and there are plenty of events and celebrations to be enjoyed. You can read about the events @visit_temecula
With the first commercial vineyard planted in 1968, Temecula Valley now boasts more than 40 wineries, producing over 500,000 cases of wine annually. Located 90 minutes south of Los Angeles and 60 minutes north of San Diego, Temecula is conveniently located near four major airports: LAX, Ontario, Orange County and San Diego.
Old Town Temecula
Old Town Temecula was incorporated in 1859, with its name coming from the Indian word Temecunga, meaning “place of sun”. It is a charming, compact town filled with antique shops, restaurants and gourmet food shops. With the wineries an easy 15 minute drive from town, Old Town is a good base for your adventure.
There are a couple of approaches you can take when deciding where to stay. The first would be to base yourself in, near or around Old Town. This enables you to get up in the morning and walk to coffee shops and restaurants. Though the area mostly consists of big brand hotel chains, such as Hampton Suites Temecula, Best Western Temecula and Embassy Suites, this choice will save you money. Depending on when you go, summer rates run between $150 – $250/night.
The second approach would be to stay at one of the winery or golf resorts. Here you can enjoy wine tasting, golf and spa treatments without ever leaving the resort. Of course this option will cost you more, with resort rates running anywhere from $300 – $500/night in the summer. A couple of good choices would be:
South coast Winery Resort and Spa – @SCWinery
Ponte Vineyard Inn – @PonteInn
Temecula Creek Inn – @TCreekInn
The third approach would be to stay at Pechanga Resort and Casino, a 3.5 mile drive from Old Town. Golf Magazine consistently rates the Journey at Pechanga Golf Course among the best public/resort courses in the U.S. And there is gambling! Pechanga rates are similar to the other wine and golf resorts.
Temecula Wine Country
@Tee2Pub and I visited 10 wineries during our two day stay. We started with a list of four “must visit wineries” and moved on from there. Tasting prices range from $15 – $20 for 6 wines, and up to $30 for premium tastings. Feel free to request one shared tasting.
Lorenzi Estate Vineyards was the first winery we visited and ended up being our favorite. We had read about their 90+point reds and were excited to taste them. The staff was knowledgeable and engaging and we thoroughly enjoyed the tasting. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we joined their wine club.
Founded in 2002 Leoness Cellars is situated among the rolling hills of Temecula Wine Country. The Restaurant at Leoness has been rated #1 Winery Restaurant by USA Today’s Readers Choice and best restaurant of the IE for four consecutive years. The restaurant did not disappoint. The food was delicious and I highly recommend a lunch or dinner there. @leonesscellars produces Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other lovely wines.
Family owned and operated Doffo Winery is another good choice for wine tasting. We especially enjoyed their red blends. @DoffoWines
Other notable wineries include Palumbo, Callaway Winery, Wiens and Europa Village.
If you’re weary of wine and looking for a pick-me-up espresso The Press Espresso is the hipster place to go. Located in Old Town at 41920 6th Street, you will find a variety of espresso drinks that can be enjoyed in a laid back atmosphere. I did not try the pastries but they looked damn good.
It is a wise idea to book a reservation if you plan on eating at Gourmet Italia for dinner. People were being told there was a 60-75 minute wait without one. The restaurant is a five minute drive from Old Town in a shopping center. The food was authentic and tasty, and the restaurant was packed.
The Goat and Vine is a casual cafe known for its delicious pizza and salad. Located in Old Town it is a must visit. In case they are running low on their banana cream pie in a jar – order it early!
If you are walking around Old Town make sure you stop in at Temecula Olive Oil Company for an olive oil and vinegar tasting (free). Believe me, you won’t leave empty handed. We ended up purchasing 3 bottles of olive oil (Fresh Basil, Citrus Reserve and Roasted Garlic) as well as a California Balsamico Bianco with Fresh Apple and a California Balsamico Bianco with Honey. Make sure you inquire about their ranch tours located 20 minutes from town.
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