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Best Temecula Wineries

Updated on September 10, 2008

What Makes a Winery the Best?


The Temecula Valley Agricultural Viticultural Area (AVA) is located in California near Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. When people find out that I've been to nearly all the wineries in Temecula, CA they ask me about the best ones. That's a tough question to answer since nearly every winery has something about it that makes it unique and worth visiting.

Therefore, I'm going to break down my answer for the best Temecula wineries into categories. But mine is only one opinion so I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom.

Best Map of Temecula Wine Country (linked below)
Best Map of Temecula Wine Country (linked below)

Start it Off by Voting

Vote for your favorite style of wine.

See results

Best Fruit Forward Reds

Fruit forward reds are usually my favorite style of wine since you can sip them anytime-and I mean anytime. These two wineries produce my favorite "fruit-bombs" in the Temecula Valley. Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon are my favorite Temecula varietals in this category.

  1. Falkner
  2. Frangipani
  3. Wiens

Best Big Reds

A big red Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel grabs both your nose and your tongue and reminds you that this is wine. Most people enjoy big reds best when paired with food. Wine newbies won't like most big reds since their palette is unable to imagine the pairing of these big red wines with the proper food.

  1. Stuart Cellars
  2. Baily
  3. Leonesse

Best Ports and Late Harvest Reds

These are usually sweet and often served as a dessert wine. Chocolate chips often served with tastings which is a bonus.

  1. Falkner
  2. Mount Palomar

Grapes at Mount Palomar - Sep 2007
Grapes at Mount Palomar - Sep 2007

Best Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are about celebration. Some people prefer dry (brut) and others prefer sweet (sec). These wineries make a variety of sparkling wines for that range of tastes. Since they're all from California, let's not confuse them with Champagne.

  1. Thornton
  2. Wilson Creek
  3. La Cereza

Best Sweet Whites

Sweet Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, Muscats, and Ice Wines comprise this category. Combining alcohol and sugar is a legal form of freebasing.

  1. Maurice Car'rie
  2. Keyways

Best Old World Style Wines

Old world style wines are more subtle and tend to be softer and more refined than typical California wines. In addition, many have a strong sense of terroir. Frankly it's not my style but these are the favorites of friends who prefer this style. Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Sirah are the main varietals here.

  1. Churon
  2. Hart

Barrel of Sangiovese at Cougar Winery
Barrel of Sangiovese at Cougar Winery

Best Places to Kick Off Wine Tasting

These wineries open at 10:00 a.m. on the weekends and generally provide discounts to other wineries near their location.

  1. Frangipani
  2. La Cereza
  3. Foote Print

Best Wineries for Value Priced Wines

People used to drinking wine coolers won't pay $20 for a bottle of wine. These wineries have a number of value priced wines.

  1. Bella Vista Cilurzo
  2. Oak Mountain
  3. Filsinger

A Nearly Empty Flight of Wine
A Nearly Empty Flight of Wine

Best Wineries for Complimentary Live Music

These wineries are a good bet for finding complimentary live music on weekends. Jazz or Blues and wine are a good combination.

  1. Miramonte
  2. Longshadow Ranch
  3. Keyways

Best Wineries to Hang Out with Hip People Under 35

These places are popular with people who are too young to remember the Apollo program. Expect limos with young couples and new 3-series BMWs. These places can become crowded but who cares-you're with the beautiful people. Or if high school wasn't a highlight, these may be the places you want to avoid.

  1. South Coast Winery
  2. Keyways
  3. Longshadow Ranch

Best Wineries for a Sit Down Lunch

Wine and food are made for each other. These restaurants know how to combine the two.

  1. Falkner
  2. Thornton
  3. Baily

Best Wineries to Grab a Snack or Sandwich

Wine tasting without food can be a disaster. It's 3:00 p.m. and you're more than two hours away from dinner. These wineries are a great place to stop and give your palette a short break.

  1. Mount Palomar
  2. Maurice Car'rie
  3. Thornton

No Sour Grapes Here
No Sour Grapes Here

Best Wineries for Bridal Showers

Places with a party atmosphere attract bridal showers. These are the happening spots whether you're a bridesmaid planning the shower or someone who likes to watch Girls Gone Wild - Temecula Style.

  1. Ponte
  2. Wilson Creek
  3. South Coast Winery

Best Family Wineries Where You'll Probably Meet the Winemaker

Wineries not frequented by limos or shuttle vans are often quiet spots where the winemaker or family member is pouring wine. Winemaking is an art and a science and for these people it is also a labor of love.

  1. Foote Print
  2. Frangipani
  3. Alex's Red Barn

Best Places for Complimentary Public Winery Tours

Arrive at the right time and see how wine is made.

  1. Thornton
  2. Callaway

Best Places to Hobnob with Wine Experts

Mingle with people who have been to wineries in Napa, Bordeaux, and Tuscany and know quite a bit about wine. They're selective and don't think a worthy bottle of wine costs less than $30. They lay down wines for years and have at least 250 bottles cellared. Most of them avoid Temecula on Saturdays because of the crowds.

  1. Leonesse
  2. Palumbo
  3. Robert Renzoni


Since these wineries are in the U.S., we have to score a winner.

Great wine is the key ingredient so scoring is as follows:

For red wine categories - 9 pts for 1st, 6 for 2nd, and 3 for 3rd. For white wine categories - 6 pts for 1st, 4 for 2nd, and 2 for 3rd. For other categories - 3 pts for 1st, 2 for 2nd, and 1 for 3rd.

Ties are broken by the scores in the wine category. And a pox on all the wineries whose Web sites don't identify their current wines.


This list is according to my evaluation in August 2008. The great thing about wine is that things can easily change every six months to a year depending on new releases. Look for my evaluation to change over time.

  1. Falkner - 21 points
  2. Thornton - 12 points
  3. Frangipani - 11 points
  4. Stuart - 9 points
  5. Mount Palomar - 9 points
  6. Maurice Car'rie - 8 points
  7. Baily - 7 points
  8. Keyways - 7 points

Guidebook to Get the Most From Your Time in Wine Country

The Grape Escapes 2: Temecula Wineries & Tasting Rooms
The Grape Escapes 2: Temecula Wineries & Tasting Rooms

This 292 page book focuses on Temecula wineries and will help you save time and money. Over 15 Temecula Wineries and Tasting Rooms will give you 2 FOR 1 TASTINGS or SPECIAL DISCOUNTS when you present this guidebook during your visit.


Final Poll

What do you think of my choices?

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Vote For Your Favorites

Make your voice heard and vote on all these categories and more.

Best Links About Temecula Wines

Top 10 Temecula Wines: Web Wine Know Awards - Discover the exceptional wines that are the most talked about of the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

Best Web Map of Temecula Wine Country - Temecula wineries, wine tasting rooms, and sellers of Temecula wines. It contains a few more locations than the printable map below.

Best Printable Map of Temecula Wine Country - This is my favorite printable map of the wineries in Temecula. It's got nearly all the wineries.

Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association - This web site is a great place to start if you're looking for a hotel, restaurant, or limo tour.

Baron's - The Marketplace - Baron's is a specialty grocery story. The one in Temecula has a great selection of Temecula wines at good prices.

Questions? Comments?

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      Stacey Waldron 4 years ago

      I like it! However, what about Belvino Winery? They have some pretty spectacular wine tasting as well.

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      Sarah 6 years ago

      Temecula doesn't get nearly enough publicity for its wine. There are so many more wineries I have yet to visit but really enjoyed the time I did spend. Thanks!

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      Ed 7 years ago

      I'm going to throw out my biased opinion. Belonging to serval wineries when I first moved out here, the only one I kept was Leonesse. Not only is the wine excellent (they continue to get 90pts and up in the wine magazines that I read), their views from the patio are fantastic.

      Going there tomorrow!

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      Jen Holloway 7 years ago

      Some excellent wineries in Temecula- but don't forget Weins! We found them to be very personable compared to others in the area! Excellent reds as well.

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      Jan 7 years ago

      I so disagree with you! You want the BEST wine in Temecula? Go to Hart, then try South Coast and then Polumbo. Stuart is coming along. The rest of them are trying, and some of them are making progress.

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      M. Newcomb 8 years ago

      Probably the best Wine Country Map, which includes the Valley and Old Town Temecula can now be found at Briar Rose Winery's website:

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      Dino  8 years ago

      I concur with Jim....your list is not to be taken seriously!

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      jim golding 9 years ago

      Falkner had a lot of medals. Is that your criteria? Who were the judges? Family? Stuart had FAR superior reds. Even Foot Print was comperable but not even on your list.