A Great Stop For Wine Tasting In Temecula

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From The Desert To Temecula For Wine Tasting

We enjoyed our few days in Palm Desert on our California road trip. But it was time to head for wine tasting in Temecula.

The most direct route to Temecula was back over the mountains we travelled for our panoramic views. But the clouds were hanging low. So we headed off on the highway route. The wind was howling. As a result, the vast fields of air turbines wildly turned in the fields.

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But the wind also brought more rain. It was strange to know that we got two days of rain on our desert visit. This did however delight the locals who desperately wanted the rain. And when we arrived in Temecula, we found verdant green hills. And we were told that was not the normal vista. But it certainly provided us with great views on our stop for wine tasting in Temecula.

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Staying At Carter Estates Winery

We have been chasing hotel loyalty points this year. But for our winery stops in both Temecula and in Napa, we chose to stay in local spots. The Carter Estate Winery and Resort had a large number of bungalows on-site. We stayed mid-week and off-season and the place was quite empty.

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Temecula Carter Estates Winery.jpg

But it was a lovely spot to stay. We had a large suite with lots of room to spread out. It looked out over the vineyards. Continental breakfast was delivered to our door.

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The Carter Estate was a great base for wine tasting in Temecula.

Friends And Wine Tasting In Temecula

We planned to visit with Pam from Always5Star on our visit for wine tasting in Temecula. As soon as we were settled in, she picked us up and we went to our first winery.

The South Coast Winery was across the street from and related to the Carter Estates Winery. We knew we were starting our visit right when we arrived to a rainbow! Pam brought her daughter Brittany and we all settled in to catch up. And tried a few wines with some appetizers. It was a great first meet-up.

South Coast Winery Temecula Rainbow - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

South Coast Winery Temecula Friends.jpg

The next day we headed to the Leoness Cellars. We were joined by Cindy Bokma and Jimmy Fu. We bought a few wine tasting tickets. But I am sure we spent far more time taking pictures than actually drinking! Can you imagine five travel bloggers and photographers all trying to get the perfect shot. Our server Greg was so patient with us.

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Leonness Wine Tasting Temecula Photography.jpg

Leonness Wine Tasting Temecula Photography.jpg

We tasted our way through the tasting menu and more. I was intrigued by the White Merlot. A rosé that was fruity but not too sweet. David even found a red wine he liked. Maybe it was the hint of chocolate and liquorice in the Zinfandel wine.

Leonness Wine Tasting Room - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Leonness Wine Tasting Room - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Leonness Wine Tasting Room White Merlot - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Leonness Wine Tasting Room White Merlot.jpg

We settled in after our wine tasting for lunch at the restaurant at Leoness Cellars. It was wonderful to be able to meet the locals. And to get a number of tips on places we needed to visit.

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The Restaurant at Leonness - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

The Restaurant at Leonness - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

It was great to continue our wine tasting in Temecula at the Leoness Cellars.

Following The De Portola Winery Route

The rolling hills of Temecula were just filled with wineries. You know you are in a wine tasting area when you find names like Chardonnay Hills and Shiraz Way. There were so many options to choose from for wine tasting in Temecula. We headed to De Portola Road to see some of the older wine establishments.

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We drove and we stopped when a winery caught our view. There were vineyards high on the hills. And low in the valleys. It would be amazing to visit again at harvest season and see the fields in bloom.

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Temecula Wineries - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Temecula Wineries.jpg

We decided to pull into the Oak Mountain Winery for just an afternoon snack. We were driving around and needed to be careful with wine tastings when driving. The sun shone on the patio as we enjoyed a coffee and a tasty sweet treat.

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Oak Mountain Winery - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Oak Mountain Winery - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

It was a treat to just drive the roads of Temecula for vineyard views. Even if you don’t do wine tasting in Temecula, the wineries are great to visit.

Finishing Off With A Wine Tasting At Carter Estates Winery

We could not leave Carter Estates Winery without tasting their wines. It was just before closing when we pulled in after a long day touring Temecula. But we had just enough time.

We started with the sparkling wine. We were told that this was one of the best in the valley. I certainly did like it! We moved on to try a Viognier and two Malbecs (2012 and 2013). We finished up with a sweet late harvest wine. Hershey dark chocolate kisses were a great complement to this dessert wine to bring out the flavours.

Carter Estates Winery - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Carter Estates Winery - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

This was our last stop for wine tasting in Temecula. We spent a few minutes taking pictures around the tasting room before closing time.

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Learning About Sparkling Wine At Carter Estates Winery

While we were taking pics, we were approached by someone we thought might be the owner. He asked if we wanted to take some much more interesting pics. It turned out that he was a consultant working with the owners.

We have done lots of wine tours before in France, the Douro Valley in Portugal and in Stellenbosch in South Africa. But we had not yet seen the sparkling wine process.

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The first thing we noticed was the frost on the outside of the vats. Our host explained that the sparkling wines were fermented at temperatures just above freezing.

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The sparkling wines from Carter Estates were processed in the traditional way that French champagnes are (Methode Champenoise). The second fermentation is done in the bottle. During this second fermentation, the sediment is collected in the neck of the bottle. An interesting machine is used to freeze this plug. And a separate machine expels the plug and the bottle is corked, caged and finally foiled.

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Carter Estates Sparkling Wine Process - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Carter Estates Sparkling Wine Process - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Carter Estates Sparkling Wine.jpg

The on-site area we toured was used only by Carter Estates and only for sparkling wine production. This was a huge commitment to becoming the best. It was interesting to learn that Carter Estates only bottles 11 different wines. And that they grow all of their own grapes in Temecula and two other spots. We were certainly glad we stopped at the Carter Estates tasting room when we went wine tasting in Temecula.

A Visit To Downtown Temecula

It may sound like we did nothing but wine tastings in Temecula. But one day we went into the old downtown area. At the City Hall, the sign proclaimed the 30th anniversary of Temecula.

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We found an interesting town centre. Much of the cowboy and cattle history of the town showed up in the buildings. And even in the street murals.

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Temecula Town Centre.jpg

Temecula Town Centre.jpg

Temecula Town Centre.jpg

Our friends provided us with a number of ideas for a lunch stop. We finally decided on the Gambling Cowboy. We were in need of some protein. And we found the greatest beef. Once we realized that this was beef country, we made sure to find the cows in the fields.

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Gambling Cowboy Temecula Town Centre.jpg

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It was great to wander in the old town. A definite stop when you visit for wine tasting in Temecula.

Views Of Temecula To Remember

The vineyards of Temecula were the great backdrop for the iconic views we found in Temecula. The first delight we got was early in the morning. As the sun rose, we saw the hot air balloons start to fill and glide into the air. It was a magical way to start the day. We just wished that we had booked a ride.

Temecula Hot Air Balloons - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Temecula Hot Air Balloons - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

We caught views of hot air balloons again over the vineyards with the mountains in the backdrop. What a glorious way to start our days.

Temecula Hot Air Balloons Carter Estates - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Temecula Hot Air Balloons - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Temecula Hot Air Balloons - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

The recent rain brought out the green in the fields around Temecula. But it also cleared the air. And in that clear air, we got the most amazing views of the snow-capped mountains in the distance. We caught our first view of the mountains from our base at the Carter Estates.

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But we were not content with that distant view. As we drove around the wineries of Temecula, we kept looking for a better view of the snow-capped mountains. We stopped several times when we thought we had the best view.

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But we did not give up. We went to Lake Skinner in search of reflections of the mountains. We did not get much of a view out over the lake. The mountains were too low on the horizon for the perfect view. But we caught them as we continued our drive through the country roads.

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But we kept going and headed closer. Until we found an awesome view out over an open field. We stopped the car and just enjoyed the view. And when we got back to the Carter Estates, we caught our last view of the pink-tinged mountains.

Temecula Snow-Capped Mountains - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

Temecula Snow-Capped Mountains - Wine Tasting in Temecula.jpg

When you visit for wine tasting in Temecula, find time to seek out the great iconic views.

It Was A Great Stop For Wine Tasting In Temecula

We were so happy to spend some time wine tasting in Temecula. It was great to meet up with friends. And to get input from locals on the spots we needed to see.

While we did some wine tasting, we also tried to see a little of the town. And the awesome iconic sights over the vineyards.

We were up early on our last day. It was a long drive to get to San Luis Obispo. And we wanted to avoid as much of the Los Angeles traffic as possible. We were excited to know that we had several other wine regions to visit on our trip to California.

Have you done wine tasting in Temecula? Did you find a favourite wine or winery? Did find hot air balloons and mountain views in Temecula?

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About TravelAtWill 494 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!

20 Comments

  1. What a lovely adventure! I’ve never been to a wine tasting tour before but it sure is on my bucket list now! Those sparkling wines look divine.

  2. Temecula is such a great spot! I love the boardwalks in old town and the piped in music. Looks like you missed my fav, Wilson Creek. But such great timing to get a behind the scenes tour

  3. What a beautiful place!! Temecula looks as pretty, if not more, as Napa but it is surprising that Temecula wine country is not as famous. Seems like staying in a local spot was totally worth it. Loved your pictures btw!

    • Vaisakhi, We were very surprised at home big Temecula was and how much it offered. I am sure our spot would be even better with grapes on the vine. Definitely a good place to stay. Linda

  4. Wine tasting events are so relaxed and funfilled especially with friends. Great pictures. The packaging looks great!

  5. Lunch at the restaurant at Leoness Cellars looks divine. Looks like a wonderful day out! And I have to say your pictures look amazing!

  6. I love wind turbines when on the road (I think they make perfect companions 🙂
    And the sight of verdant hills, well that is bliss! So awesome that you got to stay right in the middle of the vineyards and that breakfast with a view sure looks delicious! Loved the rainbow picture, it looks so gorgeous. Not a wine person but I would love to visit these for the views, the balloon ride, the old town area and of course to meet the localls

    • Divyakshi, We were surprised how much we liked the Temecula area. We definitely found a lot to see and do, even if you were not wine tasting. Many of the wineries were beautiful spots to visit even when we did not have wine. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda

  7. That rainbow over the vineyard was so gorgeous. I can see that you had a blast along with some good wine. Loved the whole description of the tour – from the greens to the distillery.

  8. A trip to Temecula would be amazing. The hot air balloon ride would be fun but even just seeing them is cool as well. My wife and I would love seeing all the wineries.

    • Dylan, We are so glad we planned our stop in Temecula. We are sorry we did not book a hot air balloon ride. Hope you and your wife get to visit and enjoy the wineries. Linda

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