In 1968, the planting of substantial vineyard acreage in the Temecula Valley sparked a revival in Southern California winemaking.
The first wines from the new vineyards were produced many miles away by Brookside Winery in Cucamonga. But in 1974, the founding of Callaway Winery marked the beginning of winemaking in Temecula. Since then, numerous wineries have been built, some with restaurants and overnight facilities, including luxury resorts.
Here are five to try on a Temecula Valley wine getaway weekend…
1. Baily Vineyard & Winery was established in 1986 by Phil and Carol Baily, with the goal of producing a small amount of excellent wine from their own grapes, and the bulk of the fruit being sold to others. Since then, Baily wines have won gold medals at all of the major wine competitions in the state.
The Bailys believe that good wine tastes better with food and food tastes better with wine. In that spirit, they, along with their sons Chris and Pat, opened Baily Wine Country Cafe in 1992 (now owned by Chris and his wife Kim), and more recently Carol’s Restaurant at the new wine tasting facility.
Also available at the tasting room is a nice selection of wine and cooking related gifts.
Getting there: 33440 La Serena, Temecula; 951-676-9463
2. Located at the far end of Rancho California Road, Chapin Family Winery offers the ambiance of a small producer with an inviting country setting.
The Chapin family has owned the property since 1987, and began planting the first vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot in 2002. By 2006, the first vintage of Cabernet was released to restaurants. Since then, additional vineyards have been planted to Montepulciano, Aglianico and Viognier.
The tasting room opened in 2011, and offers a beautiful view of the vineyards and Temecula Valley. The Chapin family believes in small lots of handcrafted wines that offer intense flavor with depth and balance that best represent the Temecula Valley appellation.
Getting there: 36084 Summitville St., Temecula; 951-506-2935
3. Frangipani Estate Winery overlooks the DePortola Wine Trail. Guests are treated to breathtaking views of the estate vineyard and surrounding valley from either the boutique tasting room or a patio adjacent to the vineyard.
Don Frangipani has taken French varietals Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot and melded them with old Italian style to create unique wines. Family owned and operated since 2006, Frangipani Estate offers a dynamic selection of wines, with a passion for reds.
Getting there: 39750 De Portola Rd., Temecula, 951-699-8845
4. Ponte Family Estate Winery is located in the heart of wine country on a 300-acre vineyard.
Conceived and built by the Ponte family — grape growers in Temecula since 1984 — the winery caters to visitors with a large tasting room, an award-winning restaurant, ample parking and world-class gardens designed to enhance the quality of one’s visit. The Pontes believe that, “If you like it, it’s good wine.”
Most of the 40-year-old vines on the property produce Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay. However, the family also farms Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Muscat, Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, Nero d’Avola, Grenache, Montepulciano and other Italian varieties.
Ponte Winery offers a charming and comfortably sophisticated atmosphere.
Getting there: 35053 Rancho California Rd.; 951-694-8855
5. Thornton Winery understands the formula for creating a premier estate that satisfies wine enthusiasts who are looking for award-winning wine, gourmet cuisine, live music, and beautiful grounds for wedding and banquet facilities.
The philosophy of owners John M., Sally B. and Steve Thornton has been recognized, as Thornton Winery garners more medals than any other sparkling wine estate in major competitions throughout the United States.
The winery, an elegant French-style chateau overlooking the graceful vineyards of the Temecula Valley, highlights Cafe Champagne, an annual Champagne Jazz Series, a breathtaking fountain terrace, herb gardens, gift shop and the Champagne Lounge.
Getting there: 32575 Rancho California Rd.; 951-699-0099
You can learn more about these five wineries and all the other estates in Temecula by clicking here: http://www.temeculawines.org/