Weekend Getaway to the Southern California Wine Country
When we associate wine with the Golden State of California, the first thing that comes to mind is Napa Valley. Northern California has made its mark in the wine world. The fervent region has been the subject of wine magazines, national articles and even a film was created about the winemaking region. But is it hard to believe that there is another region of California that produces wine? Is hard to believe that the very region is hundreds of miles south near Los Angeles? And in that region (near Los Angeles) is it hard to believe they have fair, sunny weather that is ideal for growing grapes?
Yes to all those questions. The city of Temecula is a hidden gem in Riverside County of Southern California. Bordering the northern edge of San Diego and near the county borders of both Los Angeles and Orange counties, Temecula is approximately 85 miles southeast of the metropolis of Los Angeles. Once you make the one hour and a half drive to Temecula. (Hopefully, you won’t run into the famously bad LA traffic), you will find the rolling hills that make Temecula Wine Country. There are over 35,000 acres of pristine, fertile, winemaking land that is Temecula Wine Country. Receiving bright warm, sun for pretty much 99% of the year, many winemakers, connoisseurs, and aficionados frequent this rural yet modern suburb.
Over 30 wineries are located in this area and that all seem to be nestled close to one another. The most prominent of the bunch is the Callaway Vineyard. When you think of Callaway, you may think of golf clubs and the recent Open Championship winner, Phil Mickelson. (He is a staff golfer and won the major using Callaway clubs.) But the late Ely Callaway made a huge business in winemaking before moving onto golf. It’s in the Temecula Valley where he set up shop for his wine label. Along with Ely Callaway, a handful of winemakers claimed their stake to the Temecula Wine Valley in the late 60's and early 70's. Along with the Callaway Vineyard, just down Rancho California Ave. (remember that exit when driving down Interstate 15) is the Ponte Winery and they have a less than conventional approach to winemaking.
A personal favorite wine of mine from Ponte is “Beverino”. From the name, it is a beverage wine that can be consumed anywhere at any time. It embodies the Southern California experience of being able to do any activity anytime under the Southern California sun. Just as you can surf and ski in Los Angeles on the same day. Beverino is a sweet wine that you can sip in the morning, enjoy lunch and pair it with your evening sirloin steak. It has the taste to go with most meats and cheeses. It is one of the Ponte Winery’s best sellers.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other wineries to visit in the area. Not to mention, there are several casinos within driving distance to wine country. You can make a great day trip with wine tasting and a gourmet lunch in the day; Follow it with blackjack, slots, a show and a dinner buffet at night. You don’t need to fly up to Northern California to get the best of California wines. You can find it near casinos, near the beach, near Disneyland, near Hollywood and of course, the crowded highways of Los Angeles.