While most of the wine regions in California exist towards the northern part of the state, the mecca of gorgeous wines known as the Temecula Valley is actually in Southern California.
This 1,300 acre AVA, formally registered as the Temecula Valley AVA, is the beneficiary of both an inland and maritime climate. The warm sun is present in Southern California throughout the year and because of the 22 mile proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the ocean breezes cool things down at night, creating the perfect grape growing conditions.
Because of these conditions, you can find almost every popular grape here plus unique blends that require the specific climate this area offers. From Chardonnay to Cabernet, Syrah to Zinfandel, and Merlot to Pinot Noir, the Temecula Valley hosts just about every famous California wine, all in one region.
The first grapes were brought to this region by the Padres of the Mission San Luis Rey in nearby Oceanside over 200 years ago. Wine was necessary for Padres for sacrament and other religious activities, so it was essential that vineyards were started to support the mission. As other European settlers arrived in the area, they noticed how similar the climate and grounds were to that of the Old World and began planting grapes that they had in France, Italy, and Spain. By the 1960s, the first commercial vineyard had been planted and in 1984, this area became a formally registered AVA.
Around the same time, the Temecula Agricultural Conservancy was created as a non-profit public benefit corporation to ensure the preservation of vineyards and to conserve the land that could be used for vineyards in the future. They also work with vineyard owners who choose to protect their land and vineyards using conservation efforts and sustainability methods that help maintain the land for the future.
The real treat of this AVA is the tasting. With over 30 wineries to choose from, you can get an exquisite sampling of every possible wine offering within one day, if you wanted. There are so many guided tours to be selected based on preferences and accommodations but there’s always the option to create your own tour!
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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