Temecula has an expanding wine country, with more vineyards planted in the eastern hills each year. This may not be a wine destination for many living north of Los Angeles, but the tasting rooms were full during my visit this past weekend and I discovered a couple good wines while on this adventure. My first stop was at Leoness Cellars for tasting and lunch.
Leoness Cellars is easy to find on the southern of the two main Temecula Valley wine trails. These trails travel east-to-west and have vineyards and tasting rooms all along them, much like Highway 29 or Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. When arriving, don’t try parking in front, that lot is always full. Pull around back to the main parking lot.
Besides the well-kept gardens and beautiful hilltop scenery, the tasting room and Restaurant at Leoness Cellars are worth the drive, which is about 15 minutes from downtown Temecula. The Restaurant is outdoor seating, though fully covered, and the food and service are excellent. They don’t take reservations, so check in with the hostess when you arrive and they will call for you in the tasting room when a table is available. They feature a dozen or so daily specials and the regular menu is extensive.
The tasting room has three bars and very friendly staff. Like many of the wineries in the area, the host gives each person a card and then marks the card with the wine tasted as each is poured. This makes it easy to taste a couple wines, break for lunch, then return for a few more.
The wine of note on this trip was Leoness Cellars 2012 Melange de Blanc (about $24), a refreshing blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier (staff referred to it as their sauvignon blanc). This is an excellent summer wine best served very cold. See their web site for winemaker’s notes.
One of the wineries you should definitely visit in Temecula Valley.
38311 De Portola Road, Temecula, CA 92592
Tel (951) 302-7601
Tours and private tastings available. Good location for private events.