I've been asked so many times, "what's good in Temecula?" My standard reply is that I really don't know because frankly I've been ignoring this region in my backyard. For many folks who know me, this comes as a shock! It is only an hour to hour an a half away from my place, yet I have not really taken too many opportunities to explore the Temecula Wine Scene all that often. I've been there maybe three or four times at the most. This trip I decided to be more evaluative of places we intended to visit and we found two out of eight places we visited that in my opinion were serious about producing some quality juice.
Having spent only 2 days there is hardly enough time to cover the some 24 different wineries in the valley, but my wife and I were able to visit at least 8 different wineries. This typical of our tasting schedule, we find our palates become tired after the 4th place and realize it is time to take a break.
That said, there were a few situations which I would label as annoyances about our visit to the Temecula Wineries. One is the tasting fee schedule is what I would call "exorbitant", considering this is not what most people would call a destination location or a star on the well traveled wine map! I was put off a little by this fact, and none of wineries offered refunding the price of the "tasting fee" if wine was purchased, which I found curious. This is a "common" practice just about everywhere else I've been.
The second thing is the prices of the wine compared with their counterparts in the industry, seriously folks this is NOT Napa, Sonoma, or the highly acclaimed Willamette Valley. This issue was across the board and may be a factor which is keeping the Temecula Wine Scene from becoming more mainstream, many folks keep in mind the QPR factor when shopping for wine and their QPR collectively does not match the asking price.
The last annoyance, was the need to give everyone their souvenir or logo glasses, look if you want to give a glass with the tasting it could at least be some quality stemware or reduce the fee for folks who don't desire or need a logo wine glass. For example when I visited L'Adventure and Four Vines in Paso we actually wanted the Reidel "O" logo glass, which was included in the tasting fee (and retails for $12.99 ea.). But in our visit to Temecula all the wineries except one place had some clunky-funky (see the photo) glasses best left behind! I know this sounds so pretentious, and please forgive me in advance, but when queried with the question do want take the glass? Um, we had just said "no thanks".
What I liked about the Temecula Wine Scene is the trend toward making some serious (when I say serious, I'm not saying profound) wines, which brings me to my earlier point about two of the eight places we visited who in my opinion are making a noticeable effort to produce some of wines of a higher caliber. I'm not going to tell the names of the places we didn't like, but instead I am going name the two places we really enjoyed and viewed their wines as approachable, balanced and textured.
Please keep in mind that I only visited 8 of 24 or more of the wineries in Temecula, so the sampling is not a full orbed perspective.
That being said, drum roll please, ........ the two wineries I really like are Mount Palomar Winery and the other was Leonesse Cellars, with an extra nod going to Leonesse Cellars. Simply because they had larger selection of wines in the higher caliber category. I am going to review each wineries selections separately, so look for the next two posts featuring these wineries. Until next time Cheers Everyone!