Southern California’s wine region includes Riverside (Temecula), Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. It is the home to eight American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s), which are delimited grape growing areas distinguishable by geographical climate and historic features. Californian winemaking began in this region nearly 200 years ago. However, the largest sub-region today, Temecula, only had its first vineyards planted in 1996.
The quality of Temecula Valley wines is made possible by a unique micro-climate that features morning mist, warm midday sun, cooling ocean breezes and clear starry nights. The addition of a granite based soil makes the Valley ideal for growing grapes and creating award winning premium wines, including the following four examples:
Stuart Cellars Winery Long Valley Red (2004) Limited Estate Reserve
This complex Meritage from estate grown grapes blends five different Bordeaux grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Voted by the Vintners Association “The Best Red in The Valley.”
Leonesse Cellars 2006 Signature Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
This classic offers integrated aromas of blackberry, black currants, cocoa and creamy vanilla, accented by a very subtle hint of eucalyptus and tobacco. Flavors of ripe blackberries and black currants are complemented by firm, supple tannins and a long, lingering finish.
Mount Palomar Winery Castelletto 2008 Cortese
Mount Palomar introduced this Italian variety white to California in 1991. Their Cortese has won awards every year, and the 2008 vintage is no exception. It has the aroma of ripe peach, pear and citrus, with hints of mineral and oak.
Wilson Creek Winery 2008 Estate Chardonnay.
A Chardonnay had to make the list. This grape variety traditionally dominated the acreage in the region. Albeit in recent times new varieties, such as red grape Syrah and Tempranillo and white varietal Pinot Grigio are flourishing in the South Coast climate. This Silver Medal winner is grown in the award winning vineyard named after Rosie Wilson, the Matriarch of the Winery. The nose is spicy with the aromas of ripe peaches, tangerine and green tea. Round and full in the mouth, the flavors include ripe peach, vanilla, apple and some coconut with sweet oak in the finish.
Apart from Temecula Valley, the other AVA sub-regions in the South Coast of California are Malibu-Newton Canyon, Saddle Rock-Malibu, Riverside/Cucamonga Valley, Riverside/South Coast, San Bernardino/Cucamonga Valley, Ramona Valley, San Pasqual Valley and San Diego/South Coast. There is over 3,000 acres of vineyards in the region, the majority within the borders of Temecula and the San Pasqual Valley.