Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wine tasting in Temecula

Pure vacation time begins!

Taking advantage of my work trip to California, I extended my stay by a few days, and my friend Sarah Lynn flew out and joined me. It worked out perfectly, because she was planning to fly to Los Angeles the following week for her husband's grandmother's 90th birthday gathering, so she came out early so we could explore southern California together.

Neither of us had been to San Diego before, so we focused our four days there. We chose to take an inland, scenic route from Newport Beach to San Diego, which took us through Temecula.

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It was a beautiful, winding drive through Cleveland National Forest. It really hit home for me how susceptible to wildfires this landscape is. The whole area of southern California I saw was much more arid than I expected, especially around San Diego. I didn't expect to see cacti unless I were to drive inland toward Death Valley, but they were really all over the place.

While the altitude of this particular "national forest" wasn't very high, the quantity of trees were far from my idea of a forest, and the landscape was populated more by scrub-type vegetation.
The weather inland differs dramatically from the weather along the coast of California. Our drive to Temecula was the hottest we experienced, with a high temperature in the upper 80s. I hear so many people say, "Oh, but it's a dry heat, it's not as bad," but I tell you what—it was hot!
Temecula is a town of about 100,000, but it was the local wine country that encouraged us to make a stop there. Last summer, on my trip to Traverse City, Mich. with Mom, I did my first wine-tasting—so I was interested to see how it compared to a California experience.

The area promotes at least 35 wineries—we stopped at four. That was all we could handle! The four we visited:
I much prefer white wines over red, so that's what I focused my tasting on. I found a couple Gewurztraminers I liked, and an Orange Moscato at Danza del Sol, but nothing else even came close to encouraging me to buy some. And surprisingly enough, I liked the lauded South Coast Winery the least. Part of it was the atmosphere, part was the service, but I actually didn't find the wine I tried to be anything spectacular.

After a day of sweating and sampling wine, we continued our journey south, toward our hotel near Escondido. We'd heard from friends that roadside fruit and nut stands and avocado groves were plentiful outside Escondido, and since we both are big fans of fresh, local food, we really wanted to see this for ourselves.

I didn't get to see any avocado groves—and I was curious to see avocados in their element—but I certainly saw the plentiful evidence: Sarah Lynn and I were shocked to see roadside stand after stand advertising 25 avocados for $5.00. That's $0.20 each! I'm excited when we can find avocados for $1.00 each in Indiana, so this was unbelievable. Neither of us had a way to really transport or consume dozens of avocados back to Indiana, but we certainly laughed about the possibilities for selling them at a profit!

And let me tell you, we had fresh avocado on everything. Omelettes were topped with it. Salads featured it. Even Subway, which in some Indiana locations offers an avocado spread as a sandwich topping, in southern California had fresh, whole avocado on hand to slice individually for your order. I definitely enjoyed that!

Up next: La Jolla, which boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

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