Tasting in Temecula
I am new to California, just moved here from New York. I am down in San Diego for the weekend visiting my sister and I would like to take her wine tasting in Temecula Valley but don't know much about the wines or wineries there.
Any help on which ones to prioritize?
Is there a better appellation in this area to go to?
Driving to Santa Barbara from San Diego is a ridiculous proposition... Go to Temecula and see it for what it is.
No one has mentioned Callaway, so I will. I think their wines are drinkable and the place is cute. Look for the hawks circling above, they encourage them to keep the little animals away.
I'll second and third the recommendations for Hart, Cilurzo and Thornton.
The South Coast Winery (and soon Spa) is a great place to visit, just to see what is up and coming down there. It's very new and very big for Temeucula standards. We have stayed their several times and the rooms are quaint and nestled among the vines. The restaurant there, The Vineyard Rose, has a beautiful room with a great view over the vines and is openned for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, if you are a food snob, which I am, I cannot whole heartedly recommend it. It's okay, but not great. The idea is great... they just haven't pulled off what they are trying to accomplish. I'm hoping it will get better.
I've had many a brunch at Thornton, but never any other meals. Their brunch is quite tasty and creative. The buildings and grounds are beautiful. It's a must see, if only for a quick walk through. The VINTAGE sparkling wine is pretty good too!
I'm VERY curious about the Allies recommendation above... have to look into that. In general, there are not enough restaurants in Temecula. Yes, you'll drive through and think, what is she talking about, there are all these chain restaurants here just off the freeway. I dare you to try to dine at any of them at 7:00pm on a Saturday. I've been given a 4 hour wait, more than once! So, be sure to make a reservation!
we had a great time in Temecula last year.
definitely go to Wilson Creek Winery..they are famous for their Almond Champagne which is really good...we bought a couple of bottles from the winery itself, but once I got back to LA, I found it at BevMo for $9.99...each bottle at the winery is about $18!
Had a fantastic dinner at Allies...951-694-0560
great food, beautiful scenery...make reservations for sure!
Depending where you live, the drive up to Santa Barbara can be just as long as the drive down to Temecula. Personally, I wouldn't recommend the Temecula wineries. I am not a wine snob by any stretch, but I found the crowds to be too big and unruly. In Santa Barbara, you don't deal with crowds like the ones they have in Temecula, the wine is generally of higher quality, and the scenery is magnitudes more attractive.
To be clear, the Hart Winery is pretty good. But imagine an entire valley full of Hart Winery-type places and you've got Santa Barbara.
The almond champagne winery (Wilson Creek) is famous, but I personally don't get it. That's fine -- different people have different tastes. However, I can say that Wilson Creek winery was the biggest madhouse when I visited there. Lots of trashed people pushing to get a sample of wine, rude servers that could care less what they're serving, and high prices.
Mt. Palomar has a great Port. Wiens (a new winery to Temecula) has some great wines....lots of variety as well. South Coast has the best gift shop and some good wines as well.
Cafe Champagne at Thornton Winery has good food and live music some evenings.
There are also wineries in San Diego....most are in the Escondido area or the historic town of Julian (also famous for apple pies and great bed and breakfast inns).
Temecula is the only appellation in the area. It is worth visiting for a day, but most of the wineries are nothing special. The one that does have some nice wines is Hart Winery. Their strength is Rhone-style blends, and the Mourvedre can be really good. Of the rest, Ciluzro is the only other one that somewhat impressed me.
In Old Town Temecula there are a few restaurants, nothing memorable but OK, and abtique shops.