While visiting San Diego, I ventured outside the city and took a day trip to the Temecula Wine Region. Prior to my visit, I knew very little about this burgeoning wine region in Southern California. Napa and Sonoma are renowned, but this charming, less-traveled wine growing community was new to me.
Temecula Old Town
Our day starts when the Destination Temecula coach picks us up at our hotel, the Marriott Gas Lamp. From there, we pick up a few other tour-goers and head out of the city towards the Temecula Valley.
The trip is a little over an hour and passes rolling hills, avocado groves as well as areas recovering from the flames of wildfires that swept through a few years back.
The first stop on the tour is in historic Old Town Temecula. Temecula has been around since the early days of the railroad and still retains its old-time charm. Tour-goers get to explore the shops and boutiques on the main street before boarding the bus to proceed to the first winery on the tour.
Frangipani Estate Winery is a small family-owned winery. Perched in the foothills this rural setting is idyllic for a first tasting. The friendly informal atmosphere is welcoming especially to guests who are newcomers to the world of wine.
Servers are helpful in teaching the notes and flavors to be aware of while sipping the varietal wines. The Cab Franc with its peppery final notes stands out. After tasting, we select our favorite wine to savor with lunch and adjourn to the patio for a gourmet meal enhanced by the surrounding beauty of this tranquil locale.
The view is breath-taking and the wines – delicious.
Next stop on the tour is a slightly larger winery.
Wilson Creek is one of Temecula’s most popular wineries. The grounds are beautiful and visitors are afforded the opportunity to stroll around exploring after tasting. The lush surroundings are ideal for weddings and other special occasions.
The wine is made by the Wilson family and it’s not unusual to encounter a Wilson or two while visiting. The winemakers are proud of their product and especially celebrated for their almond champagne.
Since tasting this unusual champagne with a hint of buttery almond flavor it’s become a favorite at my holiday table.
The third and final destination is Churon Inn and Winery.
In addition to the tasting room, this unique setting features 22-guest rooms in what resembles a genuine French Chateau. The high-end gift area is a perfect shopping treat at the end of the tour.
Boarding the coach for the ride back to the city one is compelled to gaze out over the grounds a final time. It’s easy to be swept away by the beauty and make plans to visit again.
Will the Temecula Valley ever overtake Napa or Sonoma as a wine destination?
Nonetheless, when in Southern California, it’s the perfect scenic location for a memorable wine experience.
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