Through the Grapevine: A Look at Temecula Valley’s Wineries (Infographic)

 by So Diego Tours

Temecula Valley has quickly become the premier Southern California destination to enjoy fine wine. Thanks to the rich soil, beautiful weather, unique microclimate, and the hard work and expertise of some of the country’s best winegrowers, Temecula offers vintages that easily stand up to heavyweight wines from France, Italy, and Spain.

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Temecula’s Wineries: An Overview

  • California’s mission padres were the first winemakers.
  • Padres established Temecula Valley’s first vineyards in 1820.
  • The first modern commercial vineyard in Temecula Valley was established in 1968 by Audry and Vincenzo Cilurzo.
  • In 1984, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau officially designated the Temecula AVA (American Viticultural Area), which was changed to the Temecula Valley AVA in 2004.
  • The Temecula Valley AVA comprises 33,000 acres.
  • About 1,300 acres are currently occupied by commercial wineries.

Tourism in Temecula Valley

Thanks in part to the wineries, Temecula Valley has seen a dramatic increase in revenue from tourism.

Visitor spending:

  • 2000 – $131 million
  • 2013 – $651.4 million

On-site food and beverage sales (restaurants, cafes, eateries):

  • 2004 – $68 million
  • 2013 – $111 million

Off-site food and beverage sales (including wine):

  • 2004 – $48 million
  • 2013 – $111 million

Tourism in 2013 generated 6,890 part- and full-time jobs!

A Unique Terroir

The growing season lasts from March to September.
Temecula Valley’s grapes are affected by the region’s unique climate.

  • Great solar intensity
  • Low rainfall
  • Morning mists
  • Cool inland air that controls daytime temperatures
  • Warm, sunny days and cool nights

Temecula Valley’s soil is comprised of decomposing granite, which:

  • Allows for water drainage
  • Creates a light, sandy loam
  • Contributes to clean, pure flavors

Winning Wineries

1. Briar Rose Winery

  • Land purchased by Les and Dorian Linkogle in the early 1990s
  • Grand opening in 2007
  • Features a life-sized replica of Snow White’s cottage

Standout Wines:

  • Reds
    • 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark cherries and blackberries give way to spice and tobacco accompanied by soft tannins
    • 2009 Tempranillo – Berries, plums, vanilla, tobacco, herbs, and leather
    • 2011 Estate Zinfandel – Medium body filled with blackberry, boysenberry, and black cherry flavors
  • Whites
    • Citronnier – Exotic fruits matched with bright lemon flavors
    • 2012 Estate Viognier – A bright floral aroma that gives way to white peach and exotic fruit flavors
  • Special
    • Talking Frog – A blend of 100% Viognier grapes and Hefeweizen lager

2. Callaway Vineyard and Winery

  • Vineyards first planted in 1969 by Ely Reeves Callaway, Jr.
  • Ely Reeves Callaway, Jr. founded Callaway Golf, the world’s leading golf company

Standout Wines:

  • Reds
    • 2009 Special Selection Dolcetto – Cherries, red cassis, white pepper, and vanilla finishing with cocoa and licorice carried on light tannins
    • 2008 Winemaker’s Reserve A.K.A. – A dark port offering plum, blackberry, and caramel flavors finishing with notes of dark chocolate and sweet dates
  • Whites
    • 2012 Late Harvest Chardonnay – Apricot, apple, and pineapple aromas leading into mango, peach, and papaya on the palate
    • 2012 Special Selection Viognier – Apricots and orange blossoms finishing with pineapples, white peaches, nectarine, and toasted almonds
  • Rosé
    • 2012 Special Selection Rosé of Sangiovese – A nose and palate filled with strawberries, cherries, rose petals, and cherry blossoms
    • 2010 Sparkling Bella Rosé – An aroma of red cherries and spicy white peppers met with raspberry, strawberry, and apple flavors

3. Falkner Winery

  • Founded in 2000 by Loretta and Ray Falkner

Standout Wines:

  • Reds
    • 2010 Amante-Super Tuscan Style Wine (Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) – Earthy aromas blended with cherries, red fruits, and blackberries
    • 2010 Meritage-Bordeaux Style (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc) – Blueberries, dark cherries, and pepper blending with warm tannins
  • Whites
    • 2013 Chardonnay – A medium body with a creamy texture flavored with ripe apples and apricots
    • 2013 Viognier – Peach and melon mixed with nutty flavors

4. Hart Winery

  • Established in 1980 by Nancy and Joe Hart
  • Produce about 4,000 cases of wine a year

Standout Wines:

  • Reds
    • 2011 Barbera – High acidity matched with intense red and blackberries and enhanced tannins
    • 2011 Mourvedre – Dry, medium-bodied wine with notes of minerals and American oak with light tannins on the finish
    • 2010 Driveway Red ( Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) – A medium-bodied blend reminiscent of Bordeaux wines
  • Whites
    • 2013 Roussanne – Subtle, dry, lightly perfumed wine offering crisp, green apple flavors
    • 2013 Sauvignon Blanc – Notes of tangerine, guava, and herbs with a clean peach finish


    • 2011 Aleatico – Varietal floral aromas give way to a deliciously sweet dessert wine

    5. Leoness Cellars

    • Founded in 2003 by Mike Rennie and Gary Winder
    • Produces about 30,000 cases a year

    Standout Wines:

    • Reds
      • 2010 Signature Selection Meritage (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot) – Sweet blackberries, cherries, and cassis ending with hints of clove, vanilla, and licorice
      • 2011 Signature Selection Grande Melange (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourverdre) – Cherries and blackberries with hints of tobacco, pepper, and vanilla
    • Whites
      • 2013 Chardonnay – Pear and grapefruit supported by hints of spice and vanilla
      • 2013 Melange de Blanc (Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier) – White peaches and apricots finishing with grapefruit, pear, and tea leaves
    • Special
      • 2007 Cinsaut Dessert Wine – Ripe plums and blackberries bordered by spice, vanilla, and a dash of dark chocolate

      6. Maurice Car’rie Vineyard and Winery

      • Established in 1986 by Budd and Maurice Van Roekel
      • Housed within a large Victorian-Style farmhouse

      Standout Wines:

      • Reds
        • Cody’s Crush (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Late Harvest Chardonnay) – A picnic wine blend that is rich in blackberry, cherry, and black currant flavors
        • 2010 Syrah – Blackberries, earth, and tar on the nose giving way to dark fruits, mocha, and clove
        • 2011 Merlot – A wine packed with cherries, blackberries, and spice that ends with a clean finish
      • Whites
        • Sweet Kai – A late harvest Chenin Blanc named for Maurice’s first great-grandchild
        • Heather’s Mist (Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Muscat Canelli) – A slightly sweet blend with flavors of pear, peach, mango, and citrus fruits.
        • 2013 Riesling – A semi-sweet wine full of apple, apricot, pear, peach, and pineapple flavors while balancing crisp acidity

      7. Thornton Winery

      • Established in 1981 by Sally B., John M., and Steve Thornton

      Standout Wines:

      • Reds
        • 2012 Barbera – Crisp acidity mixed with blackberries, blueberries, and vanillin
        • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Aromas of pepper and berry with subtle herbs and warm, toasty oak
      • Whites
        • 2013 Pinot Grigio – Fruit-heavy flavors balancing richness and acidity
        • 2013 Chardonnay – Green apple, lemon, and citrus finished with a bit of spice
      • California Champagne
        • Brut Reserve – Toasted yeast and delicate apple aromas

      Tour Temecula’s wineries and taste the region’s award-winning wines with So Diego Tours |


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