Napa Valley and Sonoma County get most of the media attention, but two areas of Southern California are home to one of the oldest and one of the newest vineyard areas in the Golden State.
One of the oldest is the Cucamonga Valley, home to a handful of wineries that date back to Prohibition times. One of the newest is the Temecula Valley, which has managed to hold back urban sprawl and be home to more than 40 wineries.
It’s hard to believe, but 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Temecula wine country. It was back in 1968 that Vincenzo and Audrey Cilurzo planted the first modern vineyard, signaling their confidence in the potential of the region.
It would take 16 years for the valley to attain official American Viticultural Area status. Twenty years later, the AVA’s name was changed from Temecula to Temecula Valley.
Over the years, Temecula Valley has grown into a true “wine country” destination. In addition to being able to drive from winery to winery, visitors can stay overnight on wine estates, dine in gourmet restaurants and hear live music. I’ve been attending concerts at Thornton Winery — which hosts an annual Champagne Jazz Concert Series — for more than 20 years.
For first-time visitors to the valley, a weekday excursion can bring substantial savings. The Sip Temecula promotion provides a passport that can be used at any five of 24 participating wineries, resulting in a savings of up to $30. More information on the passport is available here.
Located in Riverside County, Temecula is less than hour away from San Diego, Orange County and Palm Springs, which means it can make a fun day trip for those who have limited time.
More than 50 varieties are grown in Temecula, and vintners craft wines from dry to sweet, and from still to sparkling. It’s a place where a wine lover can spend a day, a weekend or a week, and leave with a desire to return soon.
Kind of like that feeling you get in Napa or Sonoma…