May 16th and 17th, 2013
The Temecula Valley is roughly 40 minutes south of Riverside in the inland empire of the greater LA area. The Ramona Valley lies midway between San Diego and Temecula and is about 20 minutes off of Highway 15.
Our trip to the Temecula and Ramona areas involved more Wineries than we originally planned on visiting so we’ve broken this up into four tasting posts with this serving as an introduction. That allows us to keep the length down for those us with short attention spans. There are/will be (depending upon when you are reading this) two posts for the Temecula Valley wine tasting and two for the Ramona Valley, and frankly, you couldn’t find two areas as geographically close together, that offer such different wine tasting experiences.
Heading to the Temecula and Ramona Valleys for our next round of wine travel posts means one thing…the dreaded Highway 5….the single most boring stretch of highway known to mankind. Karen and I have driven across stretches of the Australian Outback and at least they had the various red colored rock, trucks the size of freight trains or the occasional emaciated Kangaroo to look at. Highway 5 provides perpetual views of tumbleweeds, barbed wire, tumbleweeds, sporadic farms, tumbleweeds, heat induced haze, tumbleweeds, sneaky cops hiding under overpasses and tumbleweeds. It’s a good test for the alignment on your car because there are seriously long stretches of road where a 20 minute nap probably would probably work if your car doesn’t pull one way or the other.
Compounding the problem was my newly found sense of propriety regarding the speed limit, thanks to a ticket I received two weekends ago on our way to the Santa Lucia Highlands to do tasting (ah…I mean “research”) for that blog. Do you see the sacrifices we make for you people? The only thing worse than Highway 5, is Highway 5 at 10 miles per hour slower than normal, which stretches the damn drive out for another 30 minutes. Of course for those of you in Southern California, this isn’t really a problem because you live there. Of course, once you are done with the straight part of Highway 5, you enter the mountains which means, bumpy roads, constant highway crews and in this case, massive wildfires. Notice how small the helicopter looks compared to the fire.
Once you arrive, driving into Temecula for the first time, you might think “Temecula” is an obscure translation meaning “Home of The Big Ass Winery”. The first ones you see driving in on Rancho California Road have acres of parking and huge buildings. This is definitely an area that knows how to cater to tourism. If you can imagine tasting rooms the size of hockey rinks with dozens of employees running around pouring, you’ve got a pretty good visualization. Although it gives the impression of big corporate money, most of them are still family owned. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find there are still smaller ones that have that family feel to them and where people that really know about the wine are pouring for you. Now to be fair, we didn’t taste at any of the bigger wineries, primarily because we find it hard to get to some one who can answer the type of questions we usually ask, so although our tongue in cheek comments about winery size above might lead one to believe that they aren’t a good place for an outing, they probably are. We always email ahead when we are coming on a trip so we have a connection that can answer our questions. For the first time, we had no responses back from any Winery that we contacted (queue the crickets chirping in the background). I suspect given the proximity to LA, the people who would normally answer these types of inquiries get pretty swamped by emails so we suggest if you need special arrangements for a large group, or you need more detailed information, call first. Lacking any real feedback, thankfully we ran into Seth at Sunrider Wine and Jeep Tours and Ashlee at Lorimar Winery who gave us some good advice to plan the rest of our tour…a big shout out to you guys for the help.
One other thing to keep in mind about Temecula. It is the closest wine region to the greater LA area which is home to more than 1/2 of California’s population and that proximity affords the wineries to apply different rules to tasting fees than are in place in other regions. Fees here can vary more than in other areas and we found that policies with respect to applying tasting fees to purchases also vary. If you are coming here and cash is tight, do a little research to find which wineries fit your budget. Granted, it’s nowhere close to the prices you’ll see in many parts of Napa but if you are used to $5 tasting fees, you might be surprised.
So without further ado…on to the real point of what is supposed to be a wine tasting blog…actually talking about tasting.
1) To view more information for the Wineries of Temecula Valley or Ramona Valley (the local regional association), click here and type either “Temecula” or “Ramona” in the “quick search” field to see their listing on Winery-Sage.com.
2) To find more Wineries in Riverside or San Diego Counties, click here and enter “Riverside” or “San Diego” in the “quick search” field for Winery-Sage.com’s Winery database.
3) More information can be found for each Varietal that we’ve listed by clicking on the link that we’ve created the first time the Varietal is listed in each post.
Thank you for visiting Winery-Sage.com, the online Encyclopedia of varietals, wineries, wine events and wine producing regions. If you wish to visit our main site to learn more about any of these listings, please click here; otherwise, we hope enjoy our blog section.