Wine Wednesday: Temecula Makes Its Mark On The Wine Landscape

 

Over the summer, the Temecula Convention and Visitor’s Bureau invited me on a fabulous VIP insider’s tour of the Temecula Valley of Southern California and I was more than delighted to accept! It had been many years since this oenophile visited this region, and the last time I was there I wasn’t particularly impressed because this region felt rather young and unsophisticated in its wine making journey and it needed time to evolve and age. Well, now about five years later, I am excited to say that Temecula has definitely evolved and has turned into a noteworthy player on the California wine scene. Let me tell you more about this burgeoning wine country and about my experience there. 

The down to earth picturesque Temecula Valley is an easy hour and a half drive from Los Angeles and it is filled with a plethora of enticing things to do like wine tasting, delicious local dining, seasonal festivals and entertainment, specialty stores and boutiques, golfing and one of the largest casinos in the West (Pechanga Resort & Casino.) However, for me it is all about the wine! With rolling hills and a big, wide-open sky overhead (ideal for Hot Air Ballooning which the region is also known for), the Temecula Valley’s unique microclimate makes for a general pattern of morning mist, warm midday sun, cooling afternoon breezes, and cooler nights. These weather factors combined with the perfect balance of great geography and well-drained soils create an ideal environment for growing high quality wine grapes. The area now boasts more than 30 diverse wineries that are gaining well-deserved recognition for their quality, premium varietal and proprietary blended wines.

My overnight adventure began with my arrival at the lovely, sprawling and cozy Temecula Creek Inn (my home for the night) which I loved right from the start. Although the Inn is housed on 350 gorgeous acres and has 130 deluxe guest rooms, it felt intimate, classy and inviting and the staff was responsive to my needs and top notch! Here are some glimpses of the property

 

After I settled in, I had a chance to meet our hostess Mana the PR rep for TVCVB as well as the president of the Bureau, along with my social media partners in crime for this adventure: Katie of La Jolla Mom, Lindsey of The Modchik and Chris Voss of The Chris Voss Show and I could tell from the start we were gonna be a fun bunch

Shortly after meeting one another, we met our fabulous tour guide and driver of the day, Rick Perry of A Vineyard Tour

Rick is a top notch tour guide who is super connected and knowledgeable about the region, he knows all the tourist spots and hidden gems and he left no stone unturned throughout our day. He drives a super comfortable decked out luxury van

He provided yummy cheeses, meats and fresh bread to enjoy throughout our touring, tasting and imbibing and we even got to sip our wine along the way, it was fab! If you are headed to Temecula and want a relaxed fabulous experience, Rick is your man!

Our first tasting stop was Wiens Family Cellars, a gorgeous property and a great place to start. I fell in love with the private members tasting lounge (which we got a sneak peak of thanks to Rick)

And their unique and yummy Amour De L’Orange

Which is a unique, ambrosial style sparkling wine with just the right amount of natural orange flavoring (think Mimosas) and the fruity aromas of pear, coconut, and pineapple, YUM! The Modchik and I found out that we are sista champagne luvahs and both fell in love with this inspired bubbly that had the perfect amount of residual sugar. We enjoyed this yummy bubbly throughout the rest of our tour 🙂 

Next up, was a tourists favorite winery, Wilson Creek, which is know for its cult Almond Champagne, however because we were in the capable hands of Rick, we were whisked to a fabulous tasting bar towards the back of the winery, away from the crowds and into the skilled hands of Brian Rothblatt (a recent winner of being the tops in hospitality). Not only was Brian yummy to look at 

But he took excellent care of us, giving us barrel and special reserve tastings, the best by far was this insanely full bodied 2009 Reserve Estate Malbec for $100 a bottle! We even had the pleasure of meeting moma Wilson herself, who still has a hand in the business and gifted each of us with our choice of bubbly

Our last stop on the tour, was Leonesse Cellars, great Syrahs and by far the most picturesque and gorgeous stop on our tour, look at this view

After a fabulous day of seeing the Temecula Valley and tasting alot of really yummy wine (they are definitely now a contender in my book), we got to have some down time and enjoy our fabulous rooms, which they kindly provided us with a yummy cheese plate and local bottle of wine (nice VIP touch!)

The evening was topped off with a spectacular Wine Maker dinner which showcased the gifted chefs of the Temecula Creek Inn, fresh seasonal foods and yummy Leonesse wine pairings

Several of the chefs did a live demo of each dish before we ate it (we got the recipes too) and I swooned over this mouth watering Watermelon Gazpacho served along side a refreshing snow crab salad, deelish!

We also left this divine dinner with a lovely gift bag filled with local treasures that showcase the region like local olive oil and a wonderful lavendar candle.

After a full day of VIP treatment, eating yummy food and tasting some really great wine, I slept like a baby that night. I woke up to this gorgeous view

And I was really excited to rediscover this emerging local wine region that is in my own backyard. Without hesitation, I would highly recommend visiting Temecula (especially now in the height of the harvest season and right in the middle of AutumnFest), it is a local SoCal treasure not to be missed!

Disclosure: I was given one nights accomodation at the Temecula Creek Inn, a day of touring with A Vineyard Tour, some bottles of wine and some great food-all the raves are my very own. 

I wanted to extend a special thank you to the following for their gracious hospitality:

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