The Temecula Viticultural Region was first discovered by the legendary wine great Jean Louis Vignes and saw its first commercial plantings in 1843. Prior to Prohibition, this region produced an estimated 10,000 gallons annually. Following Prohibition, the 1960’s saw the beginnings of the rebirth of the grapegrowing and winemaking industry.
Most of the region lies within a large plateau surrounded by mountains. The underlying geology forms a huge basin which stores water runoff. This gives a tremendous groundwater resource — very rare in a dry region, and bodes well for continuing viticultural success.
This is a unique winegrape area in several different ways:
1. It is in the path of a major air movement from the Pacific Ocean (25 miles distant) into the Salton Sea Basin to the East. These cool breezes flow through gaps and passes in the coastal mountain range causing a cooler climate than surrounding areas.
2. These breezes carry atmospheric moisture into this low rainfall region. This causes frequent morning mists which curtail the number of hours of direct sunlight and often bring ideal conditions for late harvest botrytized wine types as in the Bordeaux region of France.
3. Most vineyards are above 1,400 feet elevation. Here we experience fairly cold nights, cooler than most of the Northern California vineyard regions. This has a positive effect on balance and flavor development in the wines.
The region is rated a U.C. Davis Region III, but the above factors give success with cool climate varieties like Riesling and Chardonnay.
The soils of the region are well-drained decomposed granite. These granitic soils are relatively non-fertile, which is best where low yields and high quality are expected. Less fertile soils usually result in more delicate, varietally true, and well-balanced wines.
Since these soils do not harbor nematodes or the phylloxera root louse, vines are of the classic European vinifera varieties, and are planted on their own rootstocks as in the original pre-phylloxera vineyards of France.
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