Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Temecula Valley, Southern California's Wine Country

A good way to spend an afternoon, a day, or a weekend in Southern California is to get away from the hectic pace of our daily life. Upon the suggestion of my daughter, we took a leisurely drive to Temecula Valley, Southern California's wine country. It is centrally located, off of the 15 Interstate Freeway, and within an hour or so drive from San Diego, Orange County or the Palm Springs area.  The family owned wineries are easily reached and situated just close enough to one another along the main road, Ranch California, and some streets intersecting this main road. Several wineries are set up with a bed-and-breakfast inn, spa treatment, and pavilions for wedding receptions and other celebrations. There are also restaurants and picnic grounds for the visitors. Our main destination was to the winery using organically grown grapes in their wine making.
Bella Vista was the first commercial vineyard in the valley, established in 1968. 
It is located at 41220 Calle Contento, Temecula, CA 92592
For a fee of $10.00, I decided to do some wine tasting. 
I have marked my sheet for 6 selections. Some of my white wine choices were made from organic Hungarian white grapes, the original cuttings of which were brought into this country In the late 1940s. 
There is a ritual to wine tasting: "look, smell, taste." 
1. Look to check for the clarity and color by tilting your glass away from you.
2. Our sense of smell will help us appreciate a good quality wine. Swirl your glass of wine for a couple of seconds to vaporize some of the alcohol and to release the natural aroma; smell and discern the aromatic flavors of flowers, fruits, or oak.
3. Then it's time to taste! Start with a little sip and allow it to roll in your mouth for a few seconds. Then, after discerning all the elements you find in your wine like body, scent, flavor profile, attack and finish it if you find it pleasing, or dump the rest in the white bucket if it is not to your liking, and rinse your glass with water for the next selection.
After sipping some rosés and white whites, the Rozmaring was my winner! Described as  "an amazing wine, elegant, yet lively. Scents of pear and honey meld from sweet to a fine lingering finish. Nothing like it in the valley."

This wine won the  "Bronze Medal, Winner 2010 World and the 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition."

It sure matched up to everything that was said about it, and more! Just like in the organic fruits and vegetables, the flavors in wine made from organically-grown grapes were so distinctly defined - scent and taste wise.
Bella Vista's vineyard is about 69 acres in size. They undergo a yearly recertification of their organic-vineyard. Organic vineyard farming is free of chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. Rabbit manure is used as fertilizer, which is less acidic. To counter mildew problems, a milk and water solution is sprayed on affected grape bunches and vines. In this country, there is no such thing as organic wine. The label will say "wine made from organic grapes."
This road leads up to a view of the surroundings.
Across the lake are the picnic grounds, available for the use of visitors who come to Bella Vista. The only beverage allowed in this area are the wine bought from their store. There is a magnificent view from the vantage point where the picnic tables are, of sprawling vineyards in the valley and the Saddleback mountains.

Back on the main road, it was a pretty sight to see mission style architecture or provençal style structures of some of the wine houses. Before heading for home, we stopped at another place - the Ponte Family Estate - on 35053 Rancho California Road, Temecula, CA 92591.
 The Ponte Winery's tasting room
Interior shot - the tasting bar serves handcrafted wines in an intimate setting, around the gift marketplace. Visitors can also sign up for a guided tour of the estate grounds,  surrounded by 300 acres of mature vineyards and well-tended gardens.
The Barrel Room 
 This is one type of wine in storage.
The Smokehouse Restaurant serves great, seasonal country-style cuisine in a casual, outdoor setting, paired with the Ponte wines. It is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
A garden sculpture/water fountain
One of the reception rooms
The reception pavilion
Here is one of the paths leading to the vineyards  surrounding the property, with the mountain range as the backdrop.
Conscious about the time - the rush hour on the freeway, we went on our way. It was an afternoon well spent - 3 hours in Temecula wine country and 3 hours on the road.

Please visit for more information, hotel accommodations,  and seasonal events and festivals. 

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