While the 23 wineries of the Temecula Valley are a fraction of what you might find in ever-popular Napa - with at last count, around 300 local wineries - Temecula's wine-tasting experience is getting high marks from travelers who have happened on this scenic valley almost by accident.
Located just off the well-traveled Interstate 15, between Riverside and San Diego, the gently rolling hills and scenic vineyards of Temecula now are becoming a destination in their own right. Not just a gimmick to boost local tourism, the wineries of Temecula make good wine - and presumably good money - turning the fruit of the Valley into wines that are satisfying even the most sophisticated palates.
And, as festive visitors now pack many of the tasting rooms on weekends, wineries continue to pop up at the rate of two to four per year, according to Linda Kissam, executive director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. Big resorts are on the way, too, such as the South Coast Winery's new Resort and Spa that was estimated to cost $20 million but will cost well over that by the time the complete facilities open in early 2005. Not to worry - the resort already is on its way to paying off that investment with its 76 villas booked solid on weekends even though the resort offices, restaurant, spa and winery are still under construction.