Road trip: Temecula Valley turns into the ideal San Diego pit stop
on 04/04/11 at 6:45 pmWine
So which of these don’t belong in a discussion about California wine regions: Napa, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Central Coast, Temecula Valley?
The answer is none of the above, although Temecula was off my radar entirely until a couple weeks ago when several winemaker friends heard I was headed out to San Diego and suggested I head up there to try some of their wines.
Thanks for the tip.
There might not be another region in the country that packs as much punch into a compressed area as Temecula, which began to evolve as a grape-growing area for premium wine in the mid-1960s when the first vines of the modern era were planted. Those oldest vines now exist at Callaway Vineyards and Winery and Maurice Car’rie Vineyard & Winery. But its not tradition that draws big crowd these days. It’s 32 wineries (with another one or two set to open) dotting two roads that shoot away from I-215 and loop through the valley amid the backdrop of the Coastal Mountains that rise as much as 11,000 feet.
As a Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association spokeswoman noted in a phone conversation a few days later, there’s a distinct difference between that “trail” and the wineries that make up the heart of Califronia wine country farther north. “Everything is very widespread there,” she said of Napa and Sonoma. “When you do wine tasting or visit wineries, you really have to plan your trip. Down here, the wineries are easily accessible in a 10-minute drive of each other. It’s very unique.”