002If you’re seeking a wine country outing or visiting Orange County, San Diego or Los Angeles, and want a taste of the wine country; I suggest taking a short drive to the rolling vineyards of Temecula as a great side trip away from these busy cities for a romantic weekend or relaxing trip with friends in this growing California wine region.  Temecula is overgrown with over 3,000 acres of luscious grapes and 20-plus wineries from large scale to family run productions.

In August, I visited Temecula with my boyfriend, Sean, and his friends; Paula and Chris.  Merely blocks away from the vineyards, we were lucky to have these wine country experts show us around as we toured Leonesse Cellars and Doffo Winery during our day trip—both wonderful destinations.  The grapes were full, almost ready for picking.  It was nice stepping out of the wine cellar cooling rooms to a hot, sunny day.  However, in the evenings it certainly got cooler to the point where you needed a sweater; an ideal condition for excellent wines.

Great Wine Tasting At Leonesse Cellars

Speaking of excellent wines, one of my favorite tasting tours was at Leonesse Cellars; the best wines I tasted on this trip.  The hosts at this Cellar were funny, informative, and kind with their taste offerings.  Paula & Chris‘ member status granted us access to their private Barrel Tasting Room—a must see.

We started out at their gift shop and first tasting area, then took a path outside through the vineyard, down some steps to the Barrel Tasting Room.  Here we kicked back on their leather couches, tasted wines and savored some snacks.  Not only are their wines delicious but their “Small Bytes” are excellent too!

Barrel Tasting Room

06_Meritage Red WineA wine that surely stands out is their Meritage.  I don’t believe this was part of their wine tasting flight.  I highly recommend trying it or better yet, buy a bottle! This red wine was rich and elegant, with aromas of black cherry, boysenberry tobacco, complementing lush flavors of black currant, and spice.  Aged for 18 months in small French oak barrels, this blend of 69% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot offers soft, supple tannins leading into a long, velvety finish.

The port served at the end of the tasting flight with a truffle was to die for.  An excellent pairing; a perfect ending to an enchanting wine tasting experience.  Next time I’m here, I’ll definitely be signing up for their V.I.P. Wine & Artisan Cheese Pairing where they couple their award winning wines with cheeses and chocolates.  The members we were with highly recommended Lionesses’ Wine Club Member Dinner.

Wine Passion at Temecula's Doffo Winery

The last winery Paula & Chris took us to was Doffo Winery.  This is a small family run operation on 15 acres.  The owner spoke proudly of his family‘s history and their genuine passion for what they do which is evident in their wine.  Their red wines are delightful, especially the memorable, Los Nietos Syrah. This rich late Harvest Syrah is considered one of their more special wines.  It is aged in barrel for more than 24 months.  Very few cases made. There is a 2 bottle limit per customer.

Doffo Winery

In the next 5-10 years I‘m confident Temecula will be one of the premiere wine vacation spots in the country and I look forward to another excursion very soon.