Last time I posted, I got a <a href-"http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34029... response</a>.
Now, I am looking for consensus on the you-just-have-to-visit-wineries and restaurants in Temecula?
As always, any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.
I've been out to Temecula many times. Usually it's just for the golf, as Redhawk and Temecula Creek are excellent courses for the money. But my wife and I have also stayed out at Pechanga, and gone on the hot air balloon rides in the morning. That is a treat! The steakhouse inside Pechanga is also very good, plus they have a non-smoking area of the casino with blackjack tables, etc. which is very nice if you don't like smoke.
As to the wineries, we've gone on individual trips as well as a limousine tour of the wineries. Limousine was great, as we could all drink as much as we wanted and enjoy the day without worrying about DUI on the way back, or having to find a DD.
We really enjoy eating at the Callaway vineyards. While the food is pricey (figure about $30/pp for lunch), the view and the food have been outstanding. I also recommend paying the $5 and going on the guided tour they give you, and they also have a tasting lesson at the end where they teach you how to enjoy the wine.
If you like the sparkly stuff, I really like the Thornton winery because they do tastings of the champagnes (or sparking wine, whatever it's called).
YMMV, have fun!
Thornton has the most amazing restaurant on a hill overlooking the vines-I've had nothing there that wasn't obscenely good! We usually end our tasting there. We start at Hart for reds, where you can taste for free if you bring your glass from the last time.
Van Roekel for sweet whites, Callaway and Mount Palomar.
Recently started enjoying Mount Palomar sherry and port-they have wonderful guys pouring and give you a little chocolate to drink with the port.
Have spent a fair number of days exploring the Temecula wine scene over the past 8-10 years. The number of wineries grows by at least two or three every year, but not always with a decent product. I like Hart especially for their reds, Ponte in general (decent wines, nice restaurant and tasting room).
Have tasted some decent wines from Wiens (I think they have moved out of the trailer into a new tsting room). And my wife and I like to picnic at Mt. Palomar (not a big fan of their wines though).
I run the annual Temecula Wine Competiton so I get to taste virtually all of the wines made in the Valley. I'd urge you to go to South Coast Winery and taste their wines (esp. the Wild Horse Peak vnyd wines-amazing) The Gwtz. at Van Roekel is a surprise since Gwtz normally likes a cooler climate-but their's is superb. Won the best wine award at last year's competition. As mentioned before, Joe Hart's wines are also top notch. I could go on but there are only a finite number of places you can visit in a day.
My husband and I frequently visit the Temecula area wineries (and Lodi, Monterey county, and other "not Napa" regions). We've had the best luck with the wineries on De Portola Road (parallel to Rancho California Rd). Keyways is a must-stop, but our favorite by far is Frangipani Winery. Don Frangipani used to be the vintner at Keyways, but struck off on his own and opened his own totally unpretentious place just down the road. Last time I checked, it wasn't on the Temecula Wine Country maps yet, but it's on De Portola between Glenoaks and Monte de Oro. Their claret and cab franc are beautiful wines. If they have any of the late harvest Zin out, grab a bottle. It's complex and jammy without being overly sweet. Best dessert wine in the region.
Wilson Creek is worth visiting for the almond champagne (not my personal favorite, but it's popular) and the chocolate port and caramel sherry. Baily Winery is also pretty good, and the attached restaurant, Carol's, is above average mid-priced food. I agree that Hart often has good wines, but I have found them to be kind of hit-or-miss in the last few years. I would avoid Van Roekel unless you really really like sweet wines (blech)!
Hope you have a great time tasting and (here's the PSA) drive safely and sober!