Once a secluded, sleepy agricultural preserve, today the Temecula Valley wine country is home to over two dozen wineries, offering award winning wines, top restaurants and a host of other activities that make this a sought after day trip to over 150,000 visitors per year.
If it’s been several years since you lasted visited the Temecula wine country, then it’s time to plan another trip. In the past ten years, this region has seen the number of wineries increase ten fold, with more on the way. Once considered by wine enthusiasts as an inferior location to make premium wines, today, that is no longer the case. Because of winemaking and viticulture improvements, as well as increased knowledge of the valley and its prime location, Temecula wineries have received countless awards and top honors from prestigious wine competitions throughout the world.
At first, you wouldn’t guess that the winding roads leading up to the wine country would boast acres and acres of vineyards. The housing population boomed in the late 1980’s and continued for years. However, upon entering the original location of the Temecula valley on Rancho California Road, you will encounter a variety of wineries, both large and small. This area is very popular with visitors, and here you will find some of the most well known tasting rooms. However, the Temecula Valley also caters to those visitors that prefer smaller, more private venues that are off the beaten path. There are a handful of small, family owned wineries that keep limited hours or require reservations for tastings. These are just a few of the jewels that keep wine aficionado returning to Temecula. Their websites may be limited, but their winemaking is first rate.
Some of the hidden wineries many of our clients recommend include:
Chapin Family Vineyards:
Open daily, this small family winery offers some of the most delicious and intense red wines in the valley. If you enjoy a rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Viognier, you will be delighted to sample these handcrafted wines for a small price.
Briar Rose Winery:
If you didn’t know any better, you would believe you were walking up to a storybook cottage. This boutique winery offers award winning highly flavored, premium estate wines including, a smooth Zinfandel, a concentrated Malbec and a true Tempranillo, not to mention a white Merlot, Citronier and Viognier, all loaded with exotic fruit and floral flavors. Tastings are by reservation only, with special hours for limousine and bus services.
Foot Path Winery:
This small, family operated and owned winery also contains a certified organic farm. The owners intend to keep this winery simple, and allow the focus to be on the wines. Housed in a rustic farm with a very limited gift area, the tasting room offers all red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and some beautiful blends, like Cabernet/Syrah and Zinfandel/Port. You won’t find a fancy restaurant here, nor do they host special events other than the occasional wine club party, but this winery is a popular destination for those who simply want to concentrate on the wine.
Doffo Vineyard & Winery:
This family run winery is built around a historic schoolhouse and nestled on 15 acres of vineyards. The charming tasting room serves their robust red wines handcrafted from generations of their Italian and Argentine heritage. Wine is not the only hobby the Doffo family celebrates. You will find over 100 vintage racing motorcycles and scooters collected by the family over the years. This is also the only winery in the area that features an outdoor wood-burning oven. Guests may be lucky enough to sample the “The Parilla,” while overlooking the vineyards.
Like other smaller wineries in the area with limited parking, reservations are required for eight or more people and for those using limousine services.
While the Temecula Valley is home to outstanding wineries, all offering a unique tasting experience, it is also very true that good things do come in small packages. Sometimes those boutique wineries off the beaten path provide opportunities to see what the valley was like before it gained tremendous popularity over 25 years ago.
A few of these smaller wineries offer private events, vineyard tastings and tours, Wine Club memberships, barrel tastings (fall), harvest celebrations (late summer), and World of Wine celebrations (spring).
To make your visit even more special, experience a limousine ride through the wine country at sunset, bring a picnic basket, and enjoy a bottle of your favorite recently purchased wine. The opportunities to enhance your day in the Temecula valley are limitless.