Are you visiting Temecula Valley wine country for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Temecula Valley. Considered Southern California’s wine country, Temecula Valley is 90 minutes from LA and Palm Springs, and 60 minutes from Orange County and San Diego. Boasting 35 wineries and more than a dozen wine country restaurants, Temecula Valley is an affordable and accessible wine country destination for SoCal visitors and beyond.
When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards or Callaway Vineyards & Winery, but I also take them to Palumbo Family Vineyards – for a more local, authentic experience.
When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is boutique “off-the-beaten-path” wineries like:
- Doffo Vineyard & Winery
- Cougar Vineyard & Winery
- Danza del Sol Winery
- Longshadow Ranch Vineyard & Winery
If this is a romantic trip, I recommend Leoness Cellars or Briar Rose Winery for kissing with a view.
The best place to walk the dog is at Oak Mountain Winery – they’re the most pet-friendly winery and have animal fundraising events all year round.
Temecula valley wine country cuisine
If you are looking for typical wine country cuisine, Temecula wine country has more restaurants than most central and northern California wine regions:
- The Restaurant at Ponte
- The Vineyard Rose at South Coast
- Carol’s Restaurant at Baily
- Meritage at Callaway
- The Pinnacle at Falkner
- The Creekside Grille at Wilson Creek
- Cafe Champagne at Thornton
- MDO Wine Bar & Bistro at Monte de Oro (open Fri/Sat/Sun, light fare during the week)
- Shorty’s at Mount Palomar (open Fri/Sat/Sun)
- The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars (open Fri/Sat/Sun) (order the garlic fries – addicting!)
The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Ponte Vineyard Inn for their pastry basket, while South Coast Winery Resort & Spa has the best banana pancakes (complimentary for guests.)
Looking for cheap food in wine country? Go to Shorty’s at Mount Palomar for some good gyros to-go.
The Cellar Lounge at Ponte Vineyard Inn is the spot for late night dining. They offer Gastropub fare, are open late and are the only full bar in wine country.
For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to The Restaurant at Ponte, Meritage at Callaway or The Vineyard Rose at South Coast Winery. These restaurants focus on market-driven wine country cuisine; locally sourced and made from scratch.
Seeing a lot of vineyards? Temecula Valley grows its own grapes and produces its own wine locally. Most wine is only available for purchase in the tasting rooms.
When you come to wine country, get your picture taken anywhere! There are beautiful vineyards everywhere you look. The grape vines will be in full bloom from about May-Sept. Harvest takes place in September and October and the vines will be bare from winter to spring.
Monte de Oro is a new winery with a modern-design – good for taking pics – glass floor and expansive patio.
The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Mount Palomar, Oak Mountain, Callaway, Leoness, Falkner, Monte de Oro, Bel Vino. Beautiful valley views!
Callaway Vineyards & Winery is the best place to watch or experience CRUSH, Temecula Valley’s Wine & Culinary Showcase – every September to celebrate California Wine Month.
In wine country, outdoor adventurers will want to take a horseback ride. There are riding trails throughout the vineyards.
Temecula wine country isn’t the best place for walking, due to the limited sidewalks and we all know that wine tasting and driving don’t mix. Instead, we recommend the Grapeline shuttle – no drinking & driving!
Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing and listen to live music at Thornton, South Coast, Miramonte.
The Press-Enterprise and Southwest Riverside News Network will keep you posted on what’s happening in wine country.
In the spring you should attend World of Wine Weekend, the first weekend in March. Visitors can buy a Passport to sample flights and bites at all 35 wineries over the course of the weekend.
In the summer Temecula valley offers outdoor rock, jazz, and blues concerts, winemaker dinners, cooking classes, and wine-making seminars at:
- Longshadow Ranch
- Wilson Creek
- South Coast
- Monte de Oro
- Europa Village
- Mount Palomar
In the fall, wine lovers will want to attend the Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting Weekend – first weekend of November. For one Passport price, visitors can do barrel tasting, sample wine country cuisine and vote for their favorite winery scarecrow at all 35 wineries over the course of the weekend.
Did you know you can go ice skating in Temecula Valley? Check out South Coast Winery for ice skating.
Insider Tip: Take a horse & carriage ride between Ponte, Wiens, and South Coast wineries.
I’ll bet you didn’t know… about the picnic area overlooking Robert Renzoni’s winery. Also – did you know that many wineries sell olive oil, vinegar, tomato sauce and other local foods?
Just 15 minutes outside of wine country, you can visit Old Town Temecula and have lunch at Public House. There’s wine tasting rooms by Lorimar and Villa di Calabro, the Temecula Olive Oil Company offers local soaps, vinegar, olive oil, and other handmade items. There are antique stores on every block and the farmers market takes place on Saturday. Main Street is right off the freeway for an easy ride home.
What are your favorite things to do in Temecula, California?
If You Go:
Thanks to Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association for assistance with this post. Photos and YouTube video courtesy of Nancy D. Brown.