Before it became the region's home for inventive winemaking, the Temecula Valley was ranch country. Today, horses are still man's best friend, adding a distinctively Western vibe to the area's Mediterranean-style vineyards. This includes Keyways Vineyard & Winery, where a hitching post often hosts the horses of visitors passing the day inside.
This equestrian touch belies the sophistication of Keyways's winemaking enterprise. Inside a tasting room that the California Winery Advisor dubbed "rustic yet elegant," visitors sample the complex reds and whites that grace the black onyx bar. The winemaking team's adherence to craftsmanship results in limited-run vintages that fill the vineyard?s trim annual production of 4,000 cases.
An elegant chateau sits on the hill at the center of Leoness Cellars’ vineyard, overlooking 70 acres lush with grapes. The chateau welcomes guests who come to visit its tasting rooms and serves as a compass of sorts for those who wander too far on walks through the purplish fields. It looks on as couples recite their vows during wedding ceremonies, and it houses a complete production facility where daily tour groups learn about the age-old methods of crushing, aging, and singing soft lullabies to grapes. Chef Daragh Matheson fills the chateau’s kitchen with the aromas of Alaskan salmon, ahi tuna, and beef carpaccio—specialties that pair exquisitely with the cellars’ wines.
Amid Temecula Valley's rippling foothills, equestrian farms, and estate vineyards, Frangipani Estate Winery has carved out a rural post of its own overlooking the Deportola Wine Trail. Since 2003, owner and winemaker Don Frangipani has fused French varietals with old-world Italian styles, exhibiting a passion for red wines along the way. Today, Don's facility produces 5,000 cases per year, and every day, it swings open the doors to its boutique tasting room so visitors can stop by and test drive samples.
Bold, fruit-forward reds that reflect Old-World winemaking techniques and distinctive character of Temecula Valley's climate continue to serve as Doffo Winery's star bottles. Although the selection also includes white wines that range from crisp and citrusy to floral and tinged with hints of tropical fruit, the robust malbecs, zinfandels, and cabernet sauvignons showcase the area's strengths as a grape-growing region. Doffo Winery has embraced these strengths since it first opened in 1997.
Two International Influences
|In the early 1900s, Marcelo Doffo's family moved from Italy to Argentina. His grandfather settled in the Pampas region of the country. Marcelo grew up on his grandfather's land, which featured fields of wheat and corn and herds of cattle. It was in these fields that Marcelo developed his passion for tending the land: a passion that accompanied him when he immigrated to the United States.||Eager to return to his ancestral roots, Marcelo decided to visit a great uncle living in Turin, Italy. His great uncle continued to use a portion of the family's Italian estate to grow and make his own wines. The idea of learning to make wine intrigued Marcelo, and he wholeheartedly embraced the practice after returning to his home in the United States.|
The Beginnings of a Winery
After successfully experimenting with homemade wines, Marcelo decided to commit to winemaking by founding a winery. He located a tract of land with a historic, one-room schoolhouse that reminded him of his childhood in Argentina, and he began to care for the land, preparing the soil, building trellises, and installing irrigation lines by hand.
This tract of land became the home of Doffo Winery, which currently features 15 acres of vineyards and a full production facility. Unable to shoulder all of the responsibilities himself, Marcelo sought help from his wife, Zulma and eventually from his son, Damian, turning the winery into a family business.
Things to Do Other than Taste
High atop a hill in the Temecula valley, surrounded by clear blue skies and lush rows of Rhone grapes, sits Miramonte Winery, where the winemakers soulfully craft their red wines, off dry ros?s, and inspired whites. A big, open veranda wraps around the building to provide an airy venue for wine tastings, and Mojo, the winery dog, curiously greets visitors before going off to lay in the sun.
The deep flavors and aromas in Miramonte's wines come not only from the way the Rhone grapes grow in the valley, but also from the expertise of winemaker Reinhard Schlassa and passion of owner Cane Vanderhoof. A UC Davis alum, Schlassa has made wines with icons of the industry on three continents, and he continues to perfect his craft at Miramonte Winery.
Loosely translated as Manor House, Masia de Yabar Vineyard and Winery mimics the style of a Spanish villa?a gently gabled, terracotta roof caps low stucco walls with arched outlooks. The villa hints at the Yabar family's Spanish ancestry, as well as their passion for winemaking. Today, the Yabar family oversees the production of a handful of wines and leads tastings in an earth-toned room. During tours of the vineyard and winery, they demystify the process of making wines by showing visitors their purple toes. In the shade of palms, they host art classes and live music, welcoming guests to relax on the patio with a spicy-sweet malbec or a full-bodied temtranillo.