This post may contain affiliate links that pay us when you click on them.
One of our favorite weekend activities is to visit wineries and sample their latest wines. Anna and I were married in the Santa Barbara Wine Country, but we can’t always make the 3-4 hour drive and make a weekend out of it. Luckily, living in Orange County, it is pretty easy to visit Temecula Valley and it makes a perfect day trip or overnight vacation. If you haven’t been to Temecula before, I totally recommend a Temecula Valley wine tasting experience.
Planning your Temecula Valley Wine Tasting Experience
Temecula has grown tremendously since my first wine tasting experience in 2001. There are now over 30 wineries in the local region producing over 50 different varietals of wine!
Before you go, reach out to the Temecula Valley Visitor’s Center for maps, coupons, and suggestions on activities. You can visit them online or click here to go directly to the Temecula Valley visitor’s guide.
And you can stop by during business hours Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm. Please note that they are closed on Sundays. The Visit Temecula address is 28690 Mercedes Street, Suite A, Temecula, CA 92590. The ladies that work there are extremely friendly and will help you pick wineries that suit your palate.
For the latest Temecula Valley wine tasting promotions, visit the Temecula Valley Winegrowers site and consider the SIP Temecula Passport or print out some coupons.
Also, consider options from LivingSocial that promote deep discounts on wine tastings at specific wineries and tours that often include lunch.
Wilson Creek Winery
Wilson Creek Winery will always hold a special place in our hearts because we used their almond champagne for our wedding. If you’ve never had their almond champagne, it is simply amazing… and when you mix it with orange juice, it brings a WOW-factor to mimosas unlike anything else.
In recent years, our new favorite from Wilson Creek is their White Cabernet. It is bottled in a unique blue bottle and is absolutely delicious. We highly recommend that you pick up a bottle when you visit. You won’t be disappointed.
It is $20 per person for 5 tastings and it comes with a $5 coupon for any 375mL bottle. My recommendation is to split one tasting among two people and use the $5 off on a bottle of the White Cab to share in one of their many seating areas.
Be prepared though, Wilson Creek Winery has been almost too good with their marketing. The winery can be quite busy on the weekends, but the wine stewards still do a good job of providing a decent amount of personal attention and quick service.
If you like slushie drinks, at the Courtyard Bar & Grill on the Wilson Creek patio, they offer two varieties of slushies that satisfy the kid-at-heart inside of us all… while still providing the kick of drinking wine. You can even have them mix the two flavors together!
Finding parking can be so tough at this winery that they have shuttles bringing guests from the far reaches of the dirt parking lots that is several football fields away from the tasting room.
Pro Tip: If you’re considering joining the Wilson Creek Wine Club, do so BEFORE you visit the winery because you’ll receive 4 tastings for free on each visit.
Most wineries will waive your tasting fee if you sign up for their wine club. That’s not the case with Wilson Creek. When I inquired the reason for this, they told me that too many people signed up and canceled right away. Seems odd to me because you’re required to receive a minimum of two shipments before being able to cancel.
On the other end of the spectrum are the smaller wineries that we love to support. We love the intimate setting, casual conversation, and healthier pours that you’ll find at wineries like Lumiere Winery.
Off the beaten path, down a dirt road sits a lovely boutique estate winery with a personal touch. During our visit, we actually met the owner of the Lumiere Winery and enjoyed discussing the history of the winery with Samantha and Martha and the story behind each wine.
Lumiere is an estate winery, which means that they grow all of their grapes on site. Some smaller wineries (and most of the big ones) buy grapes from various sources because their property doesn’t have the capacity to meet the demand.
Anna and I split two tastings. She had the Premium Tasting ($15) and I ordered the Reserve Tasting ($25). This way we were able to each sample the high-end and the more affordable wines.
Our favorite was the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. We were very tempted to bring home some bottles, but then Anna reminded me we have a closet full of wine that we need to make a dent in before we can bring home more wine. Grudgingly, I agreed. We’ll definitely be back once we have some room in our wine racks!
While we tasted wines and spoke with the owner, Timmy and Scarlett enjoyed reading the children’s books from the series of “Gertrude and Toby” written by local author Shari Tharp.
The Temecula Visitor’s Center told us that Lumiere also hand makes all of the food on-site. One of their charcuterie plates is a perfect pairing when sampling their wines. Farm-to-table is a huge trend for foodies… and it doesn’t get more “local” than this.
Where to stay in Temecula?
Although Temecula is a small town, it has grown considerably. You will find hotels from many of the major brands. There are also many bed-and-breakfast style properties nearby which are a perfect complement to a weekend of wine tasting. For the adventurous types, you can book a room at the nearby Pechanga Casino for a some gambling and nightlife.
In years past, we have used Marriott free night certificates from our cards to stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites Temecula or SpringHill Suites Temecula Valley Wine Country, but they’ve been upgraded in tiers to Category 7, so the free nights for Category 1-5 no longer work there.
During this visit, we stayed at the Embassy Suites Temecula Valley Wine Country using our $200 “Stay A Night On Us” certificate that we received during our Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare presentation in Orlando.
We like Embassy Suites because they’re more family oriented than traditional hotel brands. Every room is a suite with a separate sitting and sleeping area and rooms offer either a mini- or full-kitchen. Also included is free breakfast each morning offering a big buffet plus made-to-order eggs, omelets, and pancakes.
And if you didn’t sample enough wines during the day, Embassy Suites has a complimentary Manager’s Reception every evening from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm offering a selection of domestic beers, wine, and a couple of cocktails. Light snacks are also available to nibble on.
The Bald Thoughts
If you live in Southern California or will be visiting soon, I recommend a quick drive to our wine country for a Temecula Valley wine tasting experience. It is an enjoyable way to spend a day or two amidst tasty wines, great food, and friendly people. At the Temecula wineries you’ll find a mixture of locals, ladies celebrating birthdays and bachelorette parties, and families out for the day. There’s plenty to see and do, and I know you’ll find some wines that will put a smile on your face.
Thinking of getting a new credit card? To see the best credit card offers available, go to our credit card marketplace to find your next card.