Everyone knows that Southern California has great beaches, tall mountains, expansive deserts, and, of course, Disneyland!  But not everyone realizes it also has the nation's seventh highest-rated wine region in the country - Temecula Valley.  Since I started Hoffy Tours in 2012, I've had the pleasure of conducting 10 wine tasting tours there, and, not once, have I been disappointed.  It's close, it's friendly, and it has wines for every palate.

  Temecula Valley has grown tremendously in the last several decades.  Although wine making began in California in 1769 with Mission San Diego de Alcala and spread to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and the Inland Empire, it wasn't  until 1974, with the opening of Callaway Winery, that production started in the valley.  The climate is ideal for a wide variety of grapes: mild climate wines like Rieslings and Chardonnays, moderate climate Bordeaux's like Cabernets, and the warmer mediterranean varieties like Syrahs and Tempranillos.  At higher and cooler elevations, Temecula vintners are even planting Pinot Noirs.

Apart from this great variety, the wine route is extremely convenient.  About one hour southeast from Los Angeles, the wineries are easy to find on one big loop road.  Get off on Rancho California Road, go east, and within 3 miles you're in wine heaven.  Check out this link to Temecula Valley Winegrowers: TEMECULA VALLEY LINK
Notice how convenient Temecula Wine Country is.  From Interstate 15, you go
east on Rancho California Road where you will find over 16 wineries.  Then loop
back on Del Portola Rd. as you head back to Temecula Old Town.

Everyone has their favorite wines and wineries but here are a few places that my tours have enjoyed:

1) Thornton Wineries  -  They do a wonderful and reasonably-priced lunch in their patio (Cafe Champagne), often have music, provide great tours and specialize in making champagne the "French" way.
2)  Hart Family Winery - a small, comfortable winery that specializes in reds in just across the
street from Thornton.
3)  Lorimar Winery - One of the most beautiful new facilities, this winery is located just north off 
the roundabout.  I like the adjacent orange grove, the outdoor patio and their many varietals.
4)  Chapin Wineries -   I liked the location of this friendly winery at the end of Rancho California
Rd.  The outdoor patio affords great views of the vineyards.
5)  Palumbo Family Vineyards  - Off the beaten path, this small winery specializes in red wines.  A
bit pricier than most, I thought the quality of the wines was well worth it.
6) Leoness Cellars - This winery is consistently at the top of the ratings.  The facility affords great
views of the valley and mountains to the south.  Their wine selection is huge.  I especially liked the
 refreshing viognier - a light and flavorful white.  I'd like to explore the wine cellar tasting room below the main tasting room.  You'll love the patio and views!  Very classy!

Enjoying champagne and the cool temperatures of the cellars at Thorton Winery
A nice way to cap off the day is to stop in Old Town Temecula.  The city has done a nice job creating an "Old West feel" with wooden sidewalks, false front facades and lots of specialty retail.  I highly recommend the Temecula Olive Oil Company.  They have a tasting bar with flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  Apparently, the anti-oxidants in the oil cause a mild burn in the back of your throat.  I also like the nearby Spice Merchants with its incredible selection of herbs and flavorings.  

Of course Old Town Temecula has a street-spanning arch.  The best thing to me is the lack of franchises - it's all speciality retail in a very nice setting.
So folks, get your wine on!  Temecula has a lot to offer.  After wine tasting, you can golf at the Temecula Creek Inn (27 holes), rent a hot air balloon, or gamble at Pechanga Resort and Casino.
Get some friends together and let me organize your tour.  Or take this information and go exploring yourself.   Temecula is certainly not as far as Napa, Sonoma, or Paso Robles, and you'll have a wonderful time.

This Hoffy Wine Tour group was handed champagne right as it got off the bus!  Not bad at all!

Now this is how you make champagne - the French way - at Thornton.
If you have a smaller group, Hoffy Tours will whisk you to Wine Heaven in a comfortable van!

We'll drink to that!  The Laguna Beach Class of 2007 took their Moms wine tasting with Hoffy Tours.

A wine adventure for two delightful sisters.  This is family bonding!

Why not buy a wine barrel at Calloway Winery?

The view of the vineyards from the small and tasty Palumbo Winery.