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Once an important stop on the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route and a market town for the huge cattle ranches surrounding it, Temecula (pronounced teh-mec-yoo-la) is now a developed wine region, designated the South Coast region, which also includes some wineries in San Diego County. Known for its gently rolling hills, the region is studded with ancient oak trees and vernal pools.
Until recently the offering at many of the wineries were just okay, but things have changed in the last decade when winemakers discovered that French and Italian grapes would thrive in the valley's hot climate. Vines were replanted with the European varieties and now winemakers are creating luscious blended reds and whites that resemble rich Rhones and Tuscan vintages. Because most of the wineries sell their bottles only at the wineries, it pays to stock up if you find something you especially enjoy. Most of the wineries that line both sides of Rancho California Road as it snakes east from downtown offer tours and tastings (for a fee) daily and have creatively stocked boutiques, picnic facilities, and restaurants on the premises. Lately, visitors will also find that some wineries have opened luxury boutique lodgings and fine dining restaurants. Several with sprawling elegant facilities host weekend weddings. Meanwhile, local developers have created an Old Town along historic Front Street on the west side of I-15. This section is home to boutique shops, good restaurants, a children's museum, and a theater. In addition to its visitor appeal, Temecula is also a suburban bedroom community for many who work in San Diego North County.
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