The Inland Empire: Places to Explore



Temecula, with its rolling green vineyards, comfy country inns, and first-rate restaurants, bills itself as the "Southern California Wine Country." The region is home to more than three dozen wineries, several of which offer fine dining, luxury lodging, and spas in addition to appealing boutiques, charming picnic areas, and, of course, award-winning vintages.

The name Temecula comes from a Luiseño Indian word meaning "where the sun shines through the mist"—ideal conditions for growing wine grapes. Intense afternoon sun and cool nighttime temperatures, complemented by ocean breezes that flow through the Rainbow and Santa Margarita gaps in the coastal range, help grapevines flourish in the area's granite soil. Best known for Chardonnay, Temecula Valley winemakers are moving in new directions, producing Viognier, Syrah, old-vine Zinfandel, and Pinot Gris varietals. Most wineries charge a small fee ($5 to $15) for a tasting that includes several wines. Most wineries are strung out along Rancho California Road, east of Interstate 15; a few newer ones lie along the eastern portion of De Portola Road. For a winery map, visit


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