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The Temecula Valley
Most wine enthusiasts know the award-winning wines from California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
But the Temecula Valley, located between San Diego and Los Angeles, is another California wine region worth knowing by even the most casual oenophiles.
Temecula means “the land of sunshine and mist” and the valley is aptly named because it enjoys warm days (not hot) and nightly sea fogs that travel 22 miles from the Pacific through mountain passes and fill the valley with moist mist.
The result: ideal wine grape growing conditions that have attracted more than 40 great winemakers who are now producing some memorable wines.
Starting with pioneers like Joe Hart, of Hart Family Winery, dating back to 1970, Temecula wine makers have been buying up acreage, planting grapes and making fine wines at a steady pace.
Their wines are so locally popular that virtually all of the valley’s production is consumed in the valley’s tasting rooms, nearby restaurants and by members of the wine clubs that most wineries offer.
Specializing in Rhone-style varietals such as Syrah, Vigonier, Petit Syrah and “hot weather” grapes such as Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the valley’s growers have taken advantage of the area’s well-drained soils to produce some incredible vintages.
Simply Smart Travel journeyed to Temecula recently to visit wineries, meet winemakers and sample some of the valley’s best.
One of the noteworthy stops we made was at the Baily Winery where winemaker Phil Baily educated us with a “library tasting” of various vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, showing how his wines have matured over the years.
We also enjoyed the spectacular views and the restaurant at the Callaway Winery and a wide variety of memorable vintages at Robert Renzoni Vineyards, Leoness Cellars, Monte De Oro Winery, Wilson Creek Winery and Wiens Family Cellars.
The latter produces a truly impressive cabernet sauvignon that, in our opinion, need not bow to any of California’s finest cabernets.
Please drink responsibly. The minimum drinking age in California is 21 years old.
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For 2-3 Days:
- Old Town Temecula with its restaurants and shops; we loved the burgers at Mad Madeline.
- Visiting several wineries; Find a Temecula Wine Tour
For Longer Trips:
- Visit nearby Oceanside, on the Pacific coast. From there, catch a COASTER Commuter train to San Diego and explore its waterfront and Old Town. Find a San Diego adventure, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND California.
- Take a dawn or dusk hot air balloon ride over the valley.
- Visit more wineries.
- Consider trying your luck at nearby Pechanga Resort & Casino. Please play responsibly.
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While you can drive to the wineries, we recommend using one of the many tour and limo services that allow you to enjoy the scenery and the wine without worrying about driving while intoxicated. Here are some options. Please drink responsibly. The minimum drinking age in California is 21 years old.
Amtrak and commuter trains serve Oceanside, about 22 miles away, and I-15 goes through the Temecula Valley. For a full list of rail discounts, including how kids can ride 50% off, check out our United States by Rail page below:
Mobility Level: By using a winery tour, people of all mobility levels do fine.
Senior Travel Considerations: None. Temecula can be enjoyed by people of any age and is a great destination for over-50 travelers, particularly those with cultivated wine tastes.
When To Go: With its perennial warm days and cool nights, Temecula is a good place to visit year-round. To avoid crowds at the wineries or Old Town, visit on weekdays.
Where To Stay: The area has many good bed-and-breakfasts, national hotel franchises, and resorts.
Special Travel Interests: Wine. Please drink responsibly. The minimum drinking age in California is 21 years old.
For more in-depth advice on the Temecula Valley and California wine country, check out LONELY PLANET’S Los Angeles, San Diego, & Southern California guide from Amazon.com. Thank you for using our referral (“affiliate”) links to support our journalism.
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What did you do on your visit to Temecula and California? Share your favorite tips in the comments section below!
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