Temecula wine country is tucked away in Southern California’s Inland Empire, making it perfect for a weekend wine tasting getaway. Temecula’s tasting rooms offer a blend of New World and Old World varieties for wine lovers to try. Home to more than forty wineries and cultivating approximately thirty grape varieties, Temecula has everything from the familiar California varieties, like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot alongside the not-so-typical, like Vermentino, Falanghina and the historically significant Mission Grape. Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc
Temecula is best known for bold red wines. Tempranillo has complex aromas of plums and black cherries, while its Sangiovese wines have soft tannins and riper fruit flavors compared to their Italian cousins. Syrah has won accolades for being round, fleshy, generous and full-flavored. Cabernet Franc has emerged as the star of the Bordeaux varieties and is fast earning a reputation for producing a full, elegant and aromatic style.
IN THIS GUIDE:
- Wineries to Visit
- Vineyard Resorts & Hotels
- Tours & Activities
- Travel Logistics
- Temecula’s History
- …and more
Where to Go Wine Tasting in Temecula
Planning a trip to Temecula couldn’t be simpler. Depending on how much time you have, the best way to taste wine, dine and discover the region is to explore one, two, or all three of its wine trails – and each is worth exploring for a full day.
The Rancho California Trail, The Calle Contento Trail and The De Portola Trail each offer a unique set of vineyards and wineries for tastings, dining, education, and entertainment. The easiest to access is The Rancho California Wine Trail, and it’s divided into western and eastern sections. Here you’ll find a large cluster of wineries and activities, and it is your best bet for maximum impact if you only have time for a day trip.
Visit Callaway Vineyard & Winery, the first commercial winery in Temecula Valley and home of Meritage Restaurant specializing in Farm to Table preparations.
Stop by Thornton Winery, known for their jazz concerts and wine tours in their French-style château.
Hart Winery offers unique wines like Angelica, a sweet, fortified style wine the Franciscan missionaries made during the late 1700s and one of the first wines made in California.
Baily Vineyard & Winery, where visitors are hosted in a medieval-themed tasting room and restaurant.
Monte de Oro has a great patio and is an excellent stop to enjoy a glass of Cabernet Franc with their famed meatball sandwich.
Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards makes a sparkling almond wine that everybody raves about.
Day-Two: The Calle Contento Wine Trail
If you want to dig a little deeper into the Valley, take a detour along the meandering Calle Contento Wine Trail with its stunning vineyard views and backroad charm. The wineries located along this quiet road have a relaxed wine country vibe.
Falkner Winery, specializing in Super Tuscan and Meritage blends is home to The Pinnacle Restaurant with 360-degree views of its vineyards.
Briar Rose Winery features sit-down tastings in a to-scale reconstruction of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Cottage.
Longshadow Ranch Winery is a traditional California horse ranch where you can relax with a glass of their Gunslinger’s Reserve Zinfandel, Cabernet blend, or a pint of local craft beer.
Peltzer Farm & Winery highlights an extensive year-round events calendar with a festive atmosphere while serving over 100 years of farming experience in every taste of their wine.
Vindemia Vineyard, Winery, and Bed & Breakfast emphasizes sustainability, and you can taste the efforts in the glass. Plus, you can ride in one of their hot air balloons for a Wine and Sunrise Flight.
Day-Three: The De Portola Wine Trail
The De Portola Wine Trail is a five-mile stretch of rolling hills with wineries, equestrian facilities and some of the best views of the Valley.
Cougar Vineyard & Winery featuring estate grown Italian varietals including Primitivo, Pinot Grigio, and Montepulciano that you can enjoy with Sangio’s Deli hand-tossed pizzas, salads, and appetizers.
Danza del sol Winery is set in an idyllic Spanish style estate with table-side wine tasting service.
Oak Mountain Winery has hilltop views where you can sample their sparkling raspberry and sparkling strawberry wines.
Robert Renzoni Vineyards offers great views and their restaurant, Mama Rosa’s Trattoria, has the only brick wood-burning pizza oven in the Valley.
Winetraveler Tip: Southern California is warm and pleasant most of the year, but be aware that the high desert gets very hot in the summer.
Unlike most wine regions, Temecula Valley has lodging at many of the wineries, which means you can spend the day wine tasting without having to travel. What can be better than enjoying a leisurely breakfast among the vines before exploring some more?
South Coast Winery Resort & Spa is situated on 38 acres of vineyards. Here you’ll experience amenities like spacious suites, fireplaces, pools, spa service and all-day dining.
Carter Estate Winery and Resort offers rooms that overlook the Estate with fireplaces and private balconies or patios and a pool with a neighboring bar.
Ponte Vineyard Inn is a stunning hotel and winery with elegant rooms and a relaxing atmosphere. Guests and visitors can dine surrounded by Italian gardens or have a cocktail at their full-service bar that incidentally is the only place offering spirits in Temecula wine country.
Pechanga Resort & Casino has a full-service hotel where you can enjoy Las Vegas-style gaming, all-night entertainment before unwinding at their state-of-the-art spa.
Fun Fact: Temecula is the only city in California to still retain its original Native American name.
With so much to experience, these are just a few oenophilic paths the Temecula Valley has to offer the Winetraveler. And if you are so inclined, here are a few mix and match side-trips and activities to enjoy:
Old Town Temecula
Explore Old Town Temecula and take a step back into early California; here is the perfect place to grab wine by the glass and visit small tasting rooms with varietals from growers right down the road. Those preferring to stay in town can opt for one of the many hotels throughout Temecula. For a dose of history and charm, check into The Hotel Temecula, built in 1891.
The tours are available year-round so that you can observe the seasonal changes in the landscape.
Explore the many Temecula Valley trails on horseback and sample some grapes straight from the vines.
There are more than 90 miles of bike trails in Temecula Valley for cyclists of all levels.
Temecula has 39 parks and more than 20 miles of trails perfect for leisurely and more high-intensity hikes.
A convenient thirty-minute drive from the Pacific Coast, a one-hour drive from San Diego, and a one-hour drive from Palm Springs, few wine regions are more reachable from major cities, roadways and airports than Temecula. You can check flight deals on flights into any of these cities here.
The story of Temecula is rich and varied. The known history starts with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, who have called the Temecula Valley home for more than 10,000 years. The name ‘Temecula’ loosely translates to “Where the sun breaks through the mist.” After the arrival of Europeans, it became an outpost for Spanish Missionaries who were the first to plant grapes before becoming a Mexican army outpost in the Mexican-American War, and later a railroad town with a Wild West reputation.
Coastal mountain ranges and inland valleys border the Temecula Valley. The sun heats the valleys east of Temecula. The warm air rises, pulling the Pacific Ocean’s cooler air through two mountain ranges, the Rainbow Gap and the Santa Margarita Gap. This cool air creates the pattern of warm days, breezy afternoons, and refreshing nights, resulting in the perfect location for wine grape cultivation and for enjoying the outdoors.
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