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.
Specializing in Italian varietals, Cougar Vineyards and Winery sprawls across 17 acres of land on the De Portola Wine Trail, cultivating an ever-growing selection of specialties such as vermentino, aglianico, pinot grigio, and brachetto. Patrons can sample a consistently rotating arsenal of flavors inside a tasting room that’s open every day of the week, or take their wine education a step further by taking a tour of the production facility or helming a tell-all interview with one of the grapevines. Cougar Vineyards also plays host to a variety of events every month, including live musical acts on Saturdays.
A spacious wood-hewn tasting room and panoramic views of Temecula Valley lend Longshadow Ranch Vineyard and Winery a rustic, romantic aesthetic. Visitors can ride through the vineyards on carriages drawn by belgian draft horses before sipping wines that range from the sweet, floral Muscat of Alexandria to the Ponderosa Port, which is aged inside 50-year-old whiskey barrels. Live entertainment is another draw?singer-songwriters croon during acoustic sets, and classic rock bands perform during Saturday bonfires.
Dating back to 1969, Mount Palomar Winery ranks among Temecula's oldest wineries. Today, its historic winery and sprawling vineyard stretch across more than 315 acres nestled right in the heart of Temecula wine country. Guests can climb atop the grand staircase, which offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding vineyards and mountains at 1400-foot elevation. The beautiful scenery gives way to numerous venues for weddings, social outings, and corporate events.
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.