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Temecula County: southern California's wine country



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Small but impressive, Temecula is arguably California’s greatest success story. Long a wine-producing region, in the past decade it has seen an upward transformation – both in production quality and in tourism infrastructure. Their aim has been to redefine the region as Southern California’s Wine Country, and they have succeeded admirably well.

A wide range of warmer-weather grapes are grown in Temecula, offering something for nearly everyone. The varietals of the Rhône – especially syrah, grenache, carignan, petite sirah, and viognier – are well-suited to the climate, as are zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, and pinot gris. The only thing lacking are cooler-climate grapes – most notably pinot noir. Although found at a handful of wineries, these cooler varietals are not of the same high caliber as the others.

Temecula is located just 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles, making it ideal for a day trip or weekend getaway. There are just over 30 wineries, spread across 1,300 planted acres – but what it lacks in stature, it makes up for in quality of facilities. Although smaller than many of its neighbors in California, Temecula boasts one of the most completely modern winery tourism infrastructures anywhere – rivaled only by Napa Valley, and to some extent Santa Barbara.

Because of its proximity to San Diego, Los Angeles, and countless bedroom communities in between, Temecula is a huge weekend destination. Tasting rooms are built to accommodate these large numbers of people, but those in search of a more intimate experience may find it overwhelming. If that’s the case, you may want to schedule your visit for mid-week, away from major US holidays. Although still popular and widely traveled on these days, the tasting rooms won’t be packed with massive crowds.

temecula02In addition to wine tasting, the region has done a great deal to encourage development of activities for wine seekers to engage in outside of tasting. A massive casino complex – the Pechanga Resort and Casino – offers a welcome diversion. As do hot air balloon rides, barbecues, and live music throughout the region. The largest – and most iconic – event in Temecula happens every June: the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival brings people from around the world. Dozens of hot air balloons are launched, wine is poured by wineries throughout the region andconcerts are held – if a trip can be scheduled for the festival, it is an event not to be missed.


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Visit California for the wine and the weather