This rural and scenic part of Riverside county is a different experience of California wine country compared to the Central and Northern regions we have visited in the past. It is one of the newest wine regions in California, celebrating 50 years in 2018.
Temecula is a two hour drive South from Los Angeles and around an hour from San Diego. Comparing our experience of driving North two hours from Los Angeles to the San Ynez Valley wine country, we would say its much more worthwhile experience to go North two hours, however for those going to or coming from San Diego Temecula is still a good call.
Our experience of the vineyards proved less exciting in comparison to other California wine destinations for several reasons. First of all, we went on a weekend and every vineyard was very crowded, with lots of noise. Many vineyards are more impersonal here due to the large tasting rooms and outdoor areas. They don’t seem to be picnic friendly, as in Santa Ynez or Paso Robles.
Our most enjoyable experience in Temecula came from choosing to have a glass of Callaway wine at the on site Meritage Restaurant. Here the atmosphere was less crowded, and it offered the best view on site. The red wine we sampled was a pleasant surprise and it was accompanied by nice farm to table snacks.
A great complement to a day trip to Temecula would be to stop at San Juan Capistrano, one of California’s most beautiful and expansive Missions.