You ever just want to get drunk? For no reason, just feel like being drunk? I'm on my fourth glass of white wine, actually a pretty nice chard from Temecula - if you are ever there and you see this out of place sign that says Santa Margarita is open ...go there as fast as you can - this little old man retired and opened a winery. He only makes about 100 cases and when they are gone they are gone and he closes until next year. He is the last winery that has free tasting.
Speaking of free tasting - one of my favorite wineries Maurice Carrie has started charging for tasting and has taken one of my favorite wines off the tasting menu. The guys at the sister winery (Van Rokelle) said the wines where better now. Better than sewer water maybe, but not better than the wine they used to pour.
Two visits ago I discovered two new wineries, the first time I went we were the only ones in the places. Last time they were packed. Good wine travels fast. They are a bit expensive (we paid $50 for a bottle of Port - but DAMN it is good port), but they have amazing wines. One of them only pours reds, and you gotta love that. Reds are my favorite, so why am I drinking a white....oh yeah, I had to use some in cooking last week and in a another day or so I would have to dump the bottle and that would just be a waste of good wine.
If you are even in Temecula please do me a favor...DO NOT GO TO THE BIG RESORT WINERIES - THEY SUCK! You must avoid the biggies at all cost - I am not kidding, most of their wine is terrible and they are way over priced. In fact, stop at the Longs that you will see on the left side of Rancho California and make note of the wineries they carry. Go do your tasting with those in mind - and hold off on buying anything that is pretty standard until you can go back to Longs - on average about $5 less than the winery (go figure, I would think it would be cheaper at the source).
Okay here are my top picks for Temecula
1. Miremonte - my personal favorite (I belong to their wine club). Make sure you try the Opullente and the Old Vine Zin. Both are wonderful
2. Bella Vista - The Sonata is good, but not aging well, in fact I should drink my bottle soon. Try the Petite Sirah with their Campagne mixed, it is sooo good.
3. Santa Margarita - see above.
4. Filsigner - known primarily for their Gewurztraminer, but everything is pretty good.
5. Bare Foot - tastings are expensive, but well worth it. The bottles are a little pricey, but once again, an excellent wine. Not to mention the owner will be pouring for you (but probably not for much longer). This winery has only been open to the public since October 2005. Watch out for one of the horses, starts out real nice and then will head for the boobs (but that's another story).
6. Dofo - anther expensive but excellent choice. They are the last ones out on Ranch California, located in the owners garage, so becareful you might miss it.
7. Mount Palomar - The Meritage is great every year.
8. Long Shadow - especially during the summer, they have live music and BBQ. During the party they aren't doing tastings, but you can buy wine by the bottle or the glass (and those are some full glasses). They have a nice, big lawn and are very family friendly during these events.
9. Alex's Red Barn - if you are going to do Long Shadow you might as well do the Barn, they are across the road from each other. Very limited in variety, but if you like Cream Sherry, this is the place to be.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are some othe wineries that offer some good wine, these are just my favorites. They are not to be missed when I do a trip down South.
And for those of you who think the only good California Wine comes from Napa...get off your high horse and head to Temecula. Heck if you give me adavanced notice I might even join you and show you the ropes.
If you do make this trip, head to the Sizzlin' Steer for dinner (unless you are a veggie, it's a steak house). They have good steak at a great price. While you are at it, spend the weekend, hit the attique stores on Sunday, always a good time.
Wow, somehow this entry became all about my favorite place in the world, Temecula...funny how that works.
*Note I would have linked the wineries to their websites if I could figure out how to do that. Help...anyone....