Love & Vino A Tour of Temecula Valley’s Wine Country
When the first Spanish settlers explored the vast lands of Southern California to establish missions, they soon realized that the climate was exceptional for growing vineyards. Centuries later in the late 1960s, Ely Reeves Callaway Jr. and veteran viticulturist, John Moramarco, came to the same realization as they began planting vines in Temecula Valley. Today, there are more than 30 authentic vineyards and wineries that harbor a passion to create quality wines; carrying with them the same qualities as the first settlers of hard work, determination, and explorative creativity, these conquistadors of the vine have birthed the genesis for a wonderland of palatal desire.
With more than 35,000 acres of vines and wineries, Temecula’s valley offers guests a variety of interests and destinations. Balloon and biplane adventures take flight during afternoon hours to capture the hues and views of a California sunset. Dining and spa treatments are an indulgence, as are live music events scheduled throughout the year. And down the road, downtown Temecula affords a charming ambiance with a variety of shops, antiques, bakeries, dining and theatre options.
Meritage at Callaway
A tour of the Temecula Valley Wine Country must tee off with one of the founding father’s winery, about a 10-minute drive after exiting Rancho California Road from the I-15 freeway. Meritage at Callaway is where one will quickly be convinced of the exceptional quality of food and wine that Temecula Valley has to offer. This terraced, elegantly covered, open aired enclosure gives one a relaxing view of Callaway’s rolling vineyards and the valley’s western mountain range.
Chef Michael Henry has an amazingly fresh caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes and house-made mozzarella. The chef’s chosen accompaniment of wine is their 2009 Callaway Special Selection Sauvignon Blanc. Delightful flavors of rich melon, fresh lemon pie, and ripe Anjou pears message the palette making it one of the best tasting Sauvignon Blancs. For your main entrée try the grilled marinated quail with truffle potato salad and summer squash. Their 2008 Syrah Winemaker’s Reserve is an excellent pairing of dark berries, dried lavender, and cocoa to the succulent quail. To finish off your splendorous feast, either now or at the end of your day, dive into the petit chocolate crème brulee and pistachio cannoli. Enjoy this finale of fireworks with their 2008 AKA Port, which possesses aromas of rich chocolate, cinnamon, and caramel.
Along the Wine Tour – Mount Palomar Winery
Mount Palomar Winery is a close stop for your next indulgence. Another of the pioneer wineries, Mount Palomar Winery is owned by the hardest working Syrian in Temecula; if you get a chance to met Louis in the tasting room, then you will undoubtedly share in wonderful conversation of the ever-expanding dreams of an energetic man.
As you sip on Mount Palomar’s Solera Cream Sherry, he will enthusiastically paint for you the future plans of the already approved wedding chapel and boutique shops to Mount Palomar’s forthcoming resort & spa and amphitheater. Live music and entertainment are hosted at the winery Friday and Sunday evenings.
Two gentlemen farmers that deserve recognition for their great wine and love of producing are Nick Palumbo from Palumbo Family Vineyards and Wineries, and the Doffo family from Doffo Winery; both families have wonderful stories of how they have made Temecula their home. One of the best things about this valley is that you can go into a tasting room and be served by the heart and soul of the vineyard you are drinking from.
Palumbo, a San Diego native, will be happy to educate a novice wine drinker or chat with an experienced connoisseur over the perfect blend for one of his engaging Syrahs. Alike in charisma, Doffo, of Italian and Argentinean decent, is energetically ready to discuss his love of Ducati motorcycles and the development of their family’s Italian motorcycle museum over a glass of their 2009 Zinfandel.
Temecula Valley Winegrower’s Association