Wineries in Temecula?
We're going to San Diego at the end of March and want to pass through Temecula on the way. Anyone have any recs for tasty wine/beautiful wineries in the area? Thanks!
The best of the lot, I've found, are Baily and Leonesse though they unfortunately do pale in comparison with most wineries farther North. I've heard very good things about Orfila (in Escondido, near the wild animal park) but haven't had a chance to try it first hand.
Just relax and enjoy. Most wine is far better than no wine at all.
Cafe Champagne has a beautiful view and you can take a tour to see how Champagne- style sparkling wine is made. However the food is inconsistant, and as mentioned there really is not good wine Temecula.
If you just want to devote a day or part of a day to Temecula, I'd make Old Town a home base rather than the Rancho California Road area where most of the wineries are. Old Town is right in the midst of a terrific revitalization and it'll make a fun day, plus since you're posting on Chowhound I assume wine & food is your focus and there's plenty there in that regard.
Old Town is just a few blocks long so it's very manageable to park & walk/explore. Some high points:
* Temecula Olive Oil Company (Old Town Front Street at Main) - they have a beautiful store w/tasting room selling locally produced specialty foods. Also if you are doing more of a drive, pick up some of their dips, tapenades, oils etc and a baguette for a nice snack:-)
* Public House (Main Street about 1/2 block up from Olive Oil Co) - newish "gastro-pub" serving beer, wine and food in a converted old house --- BUT sit outside! They have a great outdoor seating area w/fire pits, music, family style seating and also a mix of comfy chairs, loungers etc. They also have an enclosed patio on the front with seating.
* Bank of Mexican Food (Old Town Front Street at Main) - good Mexican food, also have a fun bar scene on the patio
* Penfold's Building -- this is on Fourth & Old Town Front Street (NOT Penfold's Cafe, which is their older diner-style restaurant which is a locals spot for bkfst, but the Penfold's Steakhouse building) - this complex has the Temecula Cheese Co, which is a bustling real authentic super cool cheese shop with tasting; Jack's Nuts, which is the cutest place, with nuts, dried fruit, gifts; Temecula Spice Co - teas, spices etc.; Tesoro tasting room for wine.
Longshadow has a tasting room in Old Town about midway between the Olive Oil Co and the Penfold's building.
Now if you do venture to the wineries, don't try to do too many - just choose a couple whose wines you really like. Leonnesse has been well-reviewed, South Coast has some good ones, Baily, Stuart Cellars....but it gets SO crowded on weekends (including Fridays) so you may just want to avoid those times altogether. Any winery not on Rancho California is super close but make sure to Mapquest so you don't get lost (it can get confusing out there.) Palumbo is good. We were at the Lodge at Torrey Pines earlier this month and I was pleased to see A.R. Valentien serving a Palumbo meritage as one of three wines on their wine/cheese tasting/pairing. (Several of the Temecula wineries are specializing in creating Bordeaux-like meritages.) For eating at the wineries, the best restaurant out there is probably The Smokehouse (Ponte's.)
http://www.temeculawines.org -- Temecula Winegrowers Assn
Enjoy -- oh and I have a blog that covers (among other things) Temecula -- http://thanksgivingfeast.blogspot.com
With the disclosure that I know the owner/winemaker personally, I heartily recommend Hart Family Winery. Joe Hart is a pioneer of the Temecula wine country and has made some very good vintages, both white and red. Baily makes some great red and if you are there at lunchtime, Carol's at Baily is very nice.
If you have been to an champagne winery before, pass on Thornton and don't even think about Wilson Creek. The drunken bus loads of LA posers at Wilson Creek alone are enough to turn anyone off, much less the spew that they serve.
Do I know you LOL?! Maybe....small town! Agree on Wilson Creek unfortunately. They just added this new event center for weddings etc and it's a beautiful venue M-Th but even on those days can get crowded. The other one that is beautiful but unfortunately gets way too crowded (and with a horrible crowd of totally obnoxious drunks) is South Coast.
I am not friends with Joe Hart, but his winery is by far and away the class of the valley. 2nd the comments on Wilson and Thornton. Ponte and Leonese are decent. Keyways is also fine. If you are coming up from SD then just stop at Orfilia and call it a day. Temecula ius just too crowded on the weekend with way too many guzzelers from OC and LA