I learned that there are over 30 wineries and 3,500 acres of producing vineyards, mostly family-owned, clustered in this rural area of rolling hills just a few miles east of Temecula, about an hour’s drive north of San Diego.
Oh, where to start?
Luckily, our good friends Ann and Gary, who live about an hour away, just happened to be in the area, conveniently camped next to us in the RV park. They know the area and they’re knowledgeable about the wines and wineries of the valley, so we volunteered them as guides.
I learned that trying to tour 30 wineries in one day is a little ambitious. For a number of reasons. You really need to take the time to savour the wines, And you need to keep a clear head if you want to appreciate their nuances. (Personally, I can’t bear to, umm… ‘discard’ the tastes.) We visited two that day – just about right.
This is Monte de Oro, one of the newest wineries in the valley.
Monte De Oro produces about 10,000 cases of wine a year from the 72 acres of grapes they have under cultivation. Their building and tasting rooms are gorgeous and the view – spectacular. And their wines are a delight.
What I like about tastings is that I get to discover new wines I like, and to enjoy and appreciate wines that are wonderful to sample – but that I wouldn’t necessarily want to drink in any greater amounts.
It can also get me out of the habit of always choosing the same kind of wine. I like full-bodied red wines and will usually come home with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. (Heck, I’m just as likely to come with a box of Cabernet Sauvignon.) Good choice for me. I like them.
But this day I found I that preferred a Syrah, and surprisingly (to me at least), what has been called it’s cousin white, a Viognier.
The Viognier grape has been around since Roman times. It almost became extinct during the 1960’s (with fewer than 35 acres of vines – some say much less – remaining in France’s Rhône region). But that’s another story.
Fortunately for me, the grape has seen a resurgence and is now grown in many areas of the world, including BC. So now that I’m back, I can drink local.
It was a good day and, even though the Temecula Valley is a small, cozy region, there is still much for us to explore next time we’re there.