Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Going to Temecula

Posted by dmcker, Mar 19, 2012.

OK, someone just asked me about where to visit and what to do in Temecula. Don't think I've been there since the very early '90s.

I did visit Callaway a few times back in the late '70s into the '80s and thought they were doing great for the locale, but I haven't had any of their bottles in more than a decade. Certainly they were better back then than the Guasti bottles I also drank. Too much more critical mass further north, so my attention drifted away. I grew up north of L.A., so attention was more on that side, anyway. Anything south of L.A. was either the beach or San Diego or Mexico. Still do remember visiting San Juan Capistrano, though, as a kid and hearing about all those padres following Junipero Serra a couple of centuries ago to the area.  They apparently had enough time to kill to spend tweaking their winemaking. Think that's about 20 miles due west of Temecula. Whenever I've thought about Temecula recently I've always wondered how the grapegrowers have fended off the pressure from San Diego and L.A. and Riverside for more housing development.

Shsim was talking about going there, and a few other Snoothers are in the general vicinity. So how about we start pooling our knowledge?

Who are the best winemakers, where are the best tasting experiences (wineries or bars) and what else is there to do in the area? Anybody have any experiences or suggestions?


Reply by shsim, Mar 19, 2012.

Yea, San Juan Capistrano is just north of san clemente, I have not heard any winemaking there except in Laguna, North of SJC (Laguna canyon?).

You can call me Shi. I have not explored Temecula in depth yet but Doffo is great. I have not had anything bad from there. It is amazing how they can grow anything good out here in the desert but they definitely made it work. Hart winery deserves a mention.Other than that, mehh.

Your friend might want to check out Ramona though.

I have had wines from there although I have not visited. Edwards cellar is one of the best there, along with Eagles nest. Milagro and woof n rose have always been talked about but I have my doubts about the consistency. Ramona is certainly up and coming in San Diego. These were all shared by local winemakers from East county vintners, . They are close to the mexican border east of San Diego. They do not sell their wines but only share it due to certain zoning laws on wineries and tasting room (lame). Hopefully they will be able to share their wines with the public fairly soon! I have had some of their wines when I got to know some of them and I just cannot believe they grow all these grapes out there! I wrote an article about my visit . Going back there on 7th April so I will be back with more news!

Other than that, Escondido(north east of SD) also has some wineries, Orfila and Bernado, although I prefer Orfila.

Certainly learning alot from the local vintners.


Reply by dmcker, Mar 19, 2012.

To keep things clear, let's talk about the South Coast  area, then the Temecula Valley within it. The South Coast wine area is pretty much from the southern edge of L.A. County down to San Diego, reaching inland a bit into Riverside. Here's a map that should help with the overview:


Temecula Valley's in southern Riverside County, a little bit inland, pretty much due east from San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Niquel on the coast. A fair bit north of San Diego.

WineWeb has a convenient GoogleMap for the area, that will drop pins when you search for specific wineries.


Hey, howcome Snooth doesn't have such maps for wine regions??  ;-)

Reply by JMABlueVette, Mar 19, 2012.

I am a frequent visitor to Temecula.  Don't miss Wiens for some great big reds, especially their reserves.  Not too pricey and worth it!  Keyways for their Petit Verdo.  Doffo Zinfandel is the best in the valley.  Miramonte is an up and coming winery and has a great patio area with a great view.  Taste their "bin" and you wont be disappointed!  Baily Sangiovese is one of the best values in the valley and their Meritage is my favorite!

Reply by shsim, Mar 19, 2012.

Wow great! I am glad to hear from others about Temecula! I cant wait to go back again! Thank you JMABlueVette!

Reply by JonDerry, Mar 19, 2012.

Thanks for dropping in Blue Vette, we've been searching far and wide for any local knowledge in Temecula, and have had next to nothing to go on. Wiens, Keyways?, Doffo - Zin, Miramonte, and Baily-Sangio...

You mention a lot of my home town geography D, Laguna Niguel is where I grew up pre-college, and anything inbetween there and San Clemente, where my famiy's always conducted business, is familiar territory to say the least.

I've had some Callaway in the past, but didn't realize the grapes were grown in Temecula.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 20, 2012.

Callaway started down there (owned by the guy who made the golf clubs) but last bottle I had (a discounted Pinot Noir, not at all bad) was from Sonoma.  The story of the winery was on the label or I would not have known they started in Temecula.

Here's what David Sharp of WineMine had to say after a recent trip to the area:

The next day after an early lunch with my other sister Sarah (unfortunately she’s not my servant either), who works for U.C.R., I  headed off in the direction of Temecula. 
For the last twenty years she has been telling me that the area has  a nice little wine country and I was determined to see if it truly existed or if she was pulling my leg.  Besides I figured, there must be a tax deduction in there somewhere!  It turns out that wineries do in fact exist there.  I had a nice time driving through many and stopping at a few including Mount Palomar Winery which has a gorgeous little hilltop location and

respectable wines to boot.  Unfortunately almost none of the areas wines are distributed up here and we’ve only had one wine from the region in the shop.  No matter, if you ever find yourself heading south on Highway 215 jump off and head east on Rancho California Road for a few miles and see what’s there.  Its fun and different than Northern California and you can still make it to a nice  beach in no time flat.

Not as helpful as JMA, but makes the point that the place is on the rise. 

Reply by EMark, Mar 20, 2012.

Actually, the southbound I-215 merges onto I-15 (and terminates) just north of Temecula.  So, the Rancho California exit is off I-15.

Yes, that was the very anal Mark speaking.

Reply by dmcker, Mar 20, 2012.

What we have, it would seem, is a failure to communicate by the Temecula wine industry. Aside from merchants up in the Bay Area, restaurants within spitting distance in Orange County don't even carry their wines. I wasn't surprised when Duke's in Huntington Beach didn't carry any, but I also struck out at Eno's in the Laguna Niguel Ritz Carlton and a range of winebars in Dana Point (Purple Feet, etc.) and San Clemente (the Cellar, etc.) the last couple times I was traveling through.

Any young PR and marketing professional who wants to work in the wine industry, looks like an opportunity in the making right there! What self-respecting wine bar (and shop) isn't going to carry local wines by the glass and bottle?

Reply by shsim, Mar 20, 2012.

dmcker, how true. I have been looking out for their wines in several local wine stores now and found only one that carries something from them.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 20, 2012.

Mark, I will let David know.  He was coming from Riverside, where his son is in college.  He made it back, so he must be able to read a map!

D, that's a missed opportunity, all right, but the marketing professionals in wine don't live down there, mostly.  Of course, JD is pretty hip to the SoCal marketing scene, so maybe he wants to leave his current job?  Of course, if the wines were really bad, that would be reason not to carry them, but, by all accounts, that's not the case.

More mysterious that no one is jumping into the breach:  Seems the threat from the glassy-winged sharpshooter, carrier of Pierce's Disease, is now under control.  Temecula was always considered the likely beachhead for the critters and most likely to suffer because it doesn't get cold enough in the winter to kill them. Again, global warming was playing into concerns up north that it would now be possible for them to spread to Napa. So the future for Temecula looks more certain--where are the young wine professionals?

Reply by EMark, Mar 20, 2012.

Clearly the Temecula area was ravaged by Pierce's disease.  I doubt that it was related, but that was also about the time that Eli Callaway divested his interest in the winery.  Callaway was the most aggressive in the area and in many ways the leader.  Their decline certainly paralled, if not led, that of the entire region.  I hope both are coming back

I was also interested in the generally positive comments about Mount Palomar Winery.  Six or seven years ago I bought a few bottles of an outstanding Sangiovese from Mount Palomar bottled under the Castelletto label.  I doubt if it was Temecula fruit, but it was a fantastic wine.  I emptied the last bottle about a year ago.  I have never seen the Castelletto label since.

I certainly understand David's confusion on the designation of the highway.  If he was coming from UCR, he definitely started on the 215.  If sister Sarah was driving, he probably did not notice the transistion.

Well, we're in heavy duty chocolate chip cookie baking mode today here in DB.  Vice Baker Mark is in charge while Chief Baking Officer Peggy is attending her drawing class.  I'd better get back to work.

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