I love day tripping to the Temecula Valley for some wine tasting. It's not too far from Los Angeles, the countryside is beautiful, the wine trails are really simple, the wines are often award-winning, and the quality is always high. If you've never been to Southern California's wine country, early March brings about a great way to get an introduction.
The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association has a world of wine to offer over their Barrel Tasting Weekend, March 6th and 7th. Their two-dozen-plus member wineries will swing open their cellar doors and invite you in to sample tank and barrel tastings of future vintages along with tastings of finished wine. The event is even catered. Each winery will have food selections specially paired with featured wines.
You can start almost immediately after exiting the 15 Freeway. Take Rancho California Road or the De Portola Trail to get started on your self-guided tour. At your first stop you'll get a winery map with menu listings, a passport ticket and a souvenir logo glass. Take a few minutes to map out the wineries you want to visit - if you haven't already done so - and get started. You may be surprised that you'll find some new favorite wines as a result of your visit. I know I was. I found several new favorites at Hart Winery on my first visit. Also try to make it by South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. It is the jewel of the valley. It was the first Southern California Winery ever to win the coveted Golden Bear Award at the California State Fair as “Best Winery in California.” They followed up that success by winning the award again.
The World of Wine Barrel Tasting Weekend runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $89 per person. Sunday Only and Designated Driver tickets are available at a discount.