The Vineyards Of Temecula Valley: A Wine Region With Class

Many people that live in Southern California have no idea that there is a spectacular, 3,000 acre wine region right in their backyard. Some people in the wine industry itself don't give this area its due credit either. Many of the local wines here are world class, but underrated. Temecula is California's only prominent American Viticultural Area south of Los Angeles. The region's tasting rooms and gift shops are open to visitors year-round, and most wineries offer tours. In addition, some wineries hold special wine-and-food tastings, which are great for those who want a complete experience. But it doesn't stop there: after a full day of wine tasting in the valley, be sure to spend a relaxing night in one of Temecula's Bed and Breakfast's, enjoy the thrill of gambling with lady luck at nearby Pechanga Casino or spend the next morning on a local hot air balloon ride right here in Temecula.

The magic that makes this a perfect grape growing spot is this: the area is situated between 1,400 and 1,600 feet above sea level, it has a dry, moderately warm daytime climate, and cool evenings thanks to breezes from the Pacific Ocean 22 miles to the west. Couple this with well-drained decomposed granite soils and the results are wines of distinctive flavors and superb structure.

Over twenty wineries are located in Temecula Valley, many of them award winners. The great thing about this area is that it offers delicious wines at affordable prices. You'll find the ever popular Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc here, but you'll also be able to taste Mediterranean varietals such as Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Gris. Wine tasting in Temecula is a great time!

These wines are nothing short of spectacular, as many have discovered. In fact, they have won numerous awards at domestic and international wines competitions.

A profile of three of Temecula's favorites

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa: This vineyard, located on the eastern side of Mount Palomar has some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. Plus, the characteristic daytime heat and nighttime cold, provides the perfect agricultural setting for winegrowing. What makes South Coast different? This mountain vineyard has more sunshine than average, which helps to produce some incredible grapes and exceptional wines. In addition, they have an enchanting pool and spa, where you can renew yourself in luxury with a salon treatment. Located in the tranquil garden area, are individual whirlpools for men and women. Spa treatments include massage, a scrub or wrap, facials, manicures and pedicures. South Coast also offers a hot air balloon package.

Callaway Vineyard & Winery: Located in the center of the Temecula Valley, Callaway Vineyard and Winery is home to some fantastic premium wines. Their wines are well balanced, and feature fresh fruit flavor, round body and crisp character. In addition, you'll find that their wines pair very well with today's lighter, more eclectic cuisine. Featuring many different varietals, including Cabarnet, Chardonnay and others, Callaway is a great winery that deserves a stop.

Mount Palomar Winery: a fine wine estate which is located among rolling hills at 1400 feet elevation, this is a working wine estate on 315 acres. The estate truly has it all: the vineyards, concert and picnic grounds, plus the winery and visitor's center. What types of wines does Mount Palomar produce? A range of fine wines with emphasis on classic, Bordeaux style blends and Italian varieties. They also produce excellent Port and Solera Cream Sherry.

Stuart Cellars: Started by Marshall and Susan Stuart in the late 1990's, this 40 acre estate vineyard is planted in the traditional French method which gives the grapes consistency and time to ripen evenly giving consistency to the fruit. The delicate fruit is protected by the vine's canopy during the hottest part of the day. What's the result? Superior, richly flavored grapes that produce the highest quality wine. Marshall Stuart studied viticulture and enology through the University of California at Davis, which then led to an apprenticeship at Keyways Winery in Temecula, where he was instrumental in starting their red zinfandel program.

If you are looking to have a great time with a group of friends, find an open weekend, rent a limousine, and tour the many great wineries of the Temecula valley. Not only will you have an incredible time, but you'll see what world class wine tasting is supposed to be!

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About The Author, Jon Wuebben
(c) 2006 California Dreamin, offers hot air balloon rides and biplane rides since 1977. Featuring sunrise flights in the Temecula valley wine country and sunset flights over the Del Mar coastal valley. To take a flight, contact http://www.californiadreamin.com/ or (800) 373-3359