If you like wine, you’ve probably heard of California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys because they are some of the premier wine growing regions in the world.
But those who follow wine trends in the U.S. are paying attention to a wine-growing valley you probably never heard of-The Temecula Valley. Temecula means “the land of sunshine and mist” and the valley is aptly named because it enjoys days in the mid 70′s, abundant sunshine, good soil and an ideal grape-growing altitude of about 2,000 feet above sea level.
Located between the population centers of San Diego and Los Angeles, (on Interstate 15, the road to Las Vegas) this valley of about 1,900 acres has a fortuitous Mediterranean climate that grapes just love. The days are warm (not hot) and each night, the sea fog travels the 22 miles from the Pacific through the mountain passes and fills the valley with a moist and cooling mist. The result: The result: great wine grape growing conditions that have attracted some great winemakers who are starting to produce some memorable wines.
Starting with pioneers like Joe Hart, who started growing grapes in Temecula in 1970, canny wine makers have been buying up acreage, planting grapes and making fine wines in the valley at a steady pace. Today, Temecula has well over 40 wineries and produces wine that has is so locally popular in wine-conscious California that virtually all of the valley’s production is consumed in the many tasting rooms in the valley, nearby restaurants and by members of the various wine clubs that each winery offers. Specializing in Rhone-style varietals such as Syrah, VIgonier, Petit Syrah and “hot weather” grapes such as Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the valley’s growers have taken advantage of the area’s well-drained soils to produce wines of excellent quality.
A team from Living On The Suncoast magazine visited the Temecula Valley in late June and met with winemakers, visited seven wineries and sampled some of the best the valley has to offer. Watch for our article in the September issue.