It’s time to start planning those summer vacations. Every summer, Valley residents flock to Southern California, often to the beaches across San Diego.
Many who visit, however, have no idea they are less than a mile from one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the world.
The Temecula Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is less than 60 miles north of San Diego’s many oceanfront communities and is already home to approximately 2,500 acres of planted wine grapes.
There are more than 40 licensed wineries and 80 growers in the region, each of which names Valley residents as its best customers. New to the wines of Temecula? Here are some sips to get you started this summer, either when visiting California or in the comfort of your own home.
South Coast 2019 Chardonnay Sans Chêne
Aged in stainless steel without oak, do not expect a buttery chardonnay here. Instead, the butter flavor commonly used to describe California chardonnay is replaced with tropical fruits and apples followed by luscious honey and pear notes, then finally a kiss of bright citrus. $19.99
Wilson Creek Winery 2021 Roussanne
While this icon of Temecula is best known for its almond champagne, this herbal and floral varietal is well worth your time this summer. Refreshing to the sip, the more tea-like flavors give way to a touch of delightful melon and pear on the palate. $26.99
Cougar Winery 2019 Falanghina
Falanghina (pronounced fah-lawn-GHEE-nah) is a take on an ancient grape from Italy, and Cougar was the first winery to get this variety recognized in the United States. It roars on the nose and to the taste with Asian pear, sun-sweetened apple, bright lime and even a touch of zesty pink grapefruit. $28
Carter Estate Winery Blanc de Noir
Bubbles are a must this summer, especially these toasty nose ticklers wit hints of toffee, nuts, ginger, and even toast and stone. Feeling cheesy? Open this bottle, because when perfectly chilled, it pairs with pretty much every kind of cheese you can imagine. $35
Masia de la Vinya 2019 Barbera
This is perfect for those who like juicier wines. It is lighter in body and offers both sweet strawberry as well as sour cherry in harmony upon sipping. There is just the right amount of acid and some very light tannins as well. $35
Akash Winery 2021 Parlez Vous Rosé
Made froom zinfandel grapes, this cheeky bottle translates to “do you speak rosé.” Refreshing and perfect for pool days, the ripe strawberry and tart cranberry notes are exceptional here, tempered with the perfect amount of citrus on the nose and mouth. $36
2021 Doffo Winery Motodoffo Gran Bianco
This is an interesting blend of viognier and lesser-known vermentino, which is an Italian grape light to medium in body with similarities to sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. The combination of grapes here results in a burst of flavors, notably lemon, ripe melon, red apple and even peaches. The fruitier flavors are balanced by definite minerality and even some light floral notes. $48
Bottaia 2017 Sangiovese
This is such an easy drinking red. While there is a bit of spice to the sip, it is exceptionally light-bodied and smooth with some bright cherry notes yet low acid that make it a delight on any summer night. Bonus: The long finish is a surprising treat. $50
Lorimar Vineyards 2017 Mourvedre-Petit Verdot
Bold and dry, this deft blend of two prized red grape varietals has some very surprising notes of sour cherry and raspberry, tempered by sweeter flavors of plum. There is a buzzy acidity that leaves you always wanting a little bit more. $52
Robert Renzoni Vineyards 2019 Petite Sirah
This bottle marks the first vintage release of sirah at the growing winery. Full-bodied but not overwhelming, the sweet tobacco and dark chocolate are notable here, combining in perfect harmony with notes of blackberry and black currant. $55
Fazeli Cellars 2017 Shiraz
This is the signature wine at Fazeli, and for good reason. It starts off ultra-silky with notes of blackberry before a bit of pepper and earth make their way onto the palate, with subtle hints of vanilla and even a bit of black currant. $55
Wiens Family Cellars 2019 Reserve Syrah
Uniquely, this syrah has just a touch of viognier added, which really adds some nice layers of complexity. The nose boasts some incredible rosemary and black plum, and for some with a hint of lilac as well. Each sip offers sweet blueberry — almost like pie — and distinct earthiness yet with a touch of vanilla bean. $85
Leoness Cellars 2017 SS Meritage
Complex and elegant, the “SS” in its name should stand for super smooth. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, this varietal offers aromas of blackberry on the nose before offering currant and silky fruits to the taste. Expect a long, velvety finish. $99