Agriculturally rich with farms and ranches, rolling hills and vineyards, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country offers groups premium varietal, farm, olive ranch, vineyard, and winery tours. Each of the following ‘Top 10’agricultural endeavors is family owned, and all are commercial enterprises; growing in the good earth, harvesting at perfection; field to fork, tree to table, and grape to glass.
By advance reservation, groups of agribusiness professionals, academics, researchers, and interested enthusiasts are warmly welcomed with a sunny, relaxed spirit to tour, taste, learn, and experience. The casual, picturesque valley is located 1 hour from Orange County and Palm Desert; 1½ hours from Los Angeles.
1. Cunningham Organic Farm
Tour, learn, pick, sample, and taste special tree crops in-season at eclectic Cunningham Organic Farm, nestled next to the Cleveland National Forest. Citrus abounds including 13 different varieties of tangerines, oranges, Meyer lemons, and fragrant, Buddha’s Hand citron, plus cocktail grapefruit (a sweet, juicy cross between a pommelo and a mandarin). With Hass, Fuerte, Reed, and Pinkerton avocados, the ‘alligator pear’ is typically in-season almost continuously throughout the year. There are 3 different guavas; loquats; bananas; kumquats; and cherimoya. In autumn, look for fuyu persimmons and likely witness the drying operation. A memorable picnic area hosts hill and mountain views. Currently planted are 60 acres/24 hectares. Groups up to 20 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
2. Crows Pass Farm
In the heart of Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is certified-organic Crows Pass Farm. Seasonal row crops are the primary focus: like baby lettuce, greens, escarole, and fennel; fresh herbs and gourmet onions; peas, beans, and squash; melons and strawberries. Crows Pass Farm is an excellent destination for learning how a small farm operates and – with its emphasis on a high level of flavor and quality – how it successfully markets itself chef-direct to upscale restaurants – from San Diego and La Jolla, to Newport Beach, Orange County, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Pasadena. Currently planted are 20 acres/8 hectares of a total 40 acres/16 hectares; the other 20 acres/8 hectares is in rotation, completely fallow. Groups up to 25 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
3. Moonrise Farm
Saturday mornings at the Old Town Temecula Calfornia-Certified Farmers Market, ‘certified organic and biodynamic’ are hallmarks of Moonrise Farm. At the rural estate, all of the seasonal heirloom vegetables – row upon row, in great abundance – have seed sources over 100 years old and no genetic modification (no GMO). Heirloom pumpkins are a special feature in autumn. A 20-minute tour yields an amazing bounty of knowledge – including valuable insight into all-natural growing practices. Currently planted are 2½ acres/1 hectare of the 5-acre/2-hectare property. Groups up to 12 people welcome by advance reservation spring, summer, and autumn.
4. Liberty Acres
Liberty Acres is a testament to ingenuity, self-reliance, and the modern, pioneer family lifestyle. Off the grid with solar for electric power and a well for water, a family of four lives on-site at this excellent example of a fully self-sustaining agricultural property. A vineyard of cabernet grapes will soon yield private-label wine. Meanwhile, a fruit orchard (stone fruit, citrus, avocados, and pomegranates), row crops, plus blueberries and strawberries support Liberty Acres’ Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program; and a lavender field is the source for sachets and soaps that are sold. Currently planted are 3 acres/1.2 hectares. Groups up to 12 people welcome by advance reservation spring, summer, and autumn.
5. Morning Song Farm
Morning Song Farm is a certified organic, subtropical fruit and nut, and heirloom vegetable farm, growing lots of herbs, heirloom tomatoes, leafy greens, and edible flowers. A variety of intriguing tours is offered with or without a catered lunch. The Small Farm Livestock tour includes meeting gentle dairy goats, participating in milking, and witnessing cream separation and butter churning; plus learning about llama fiber processing – from llama to spinning wheel – and taking a turn at spinning; gathering eggs and learning why Morning Song’s chickens are so special. The Macadamia Nut tour teaches why macadamia nuts are so expensive and features opportunities to assist in husking, shelling and sorting, and sampling. The Grove and Garden tour is about enjoying seasonal fruit right from the tree – passion fruit, kumquats, guavas, blood oranges, and mandarins; and exploring the vegetable and herb gardens, and sampling what is ready to harvest. Beginning Bee Keeping instructs on how to start your own, backyard ‘local honey’ operation, the necessary tools and equipment, queens and worker bees, and how-to of honey processing. Currently planted are 20 acres/8 hectares. Groups up to 50 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
6. Temecula Berry Company
Handsome, highbush blueberries are the signature crop of Temecula Berry Company. Learn about conventional growing practices for this popular indigo-blue fruit. After the informative tour, linger to pick blueberries; picking buckets are provided. Carefully lift leafy branches to discover clusters of sweet and flavorful berries. Currently planted are 12½ acres/5 hectares. Groups up to 40 people welcome by advance reservation; tours are during harvest only, late-May through first week in July.
7. Temecula Olive Oil Company – Olive Ranch
Family owned and operated, and committed to using only 100% California olives to make the highest quality 100% extra virgin olive oil, Temecula Olive Oil Company’s olive ranch is east of Old Town Temecula. Tour and learn of the sustainable agriculture practices; the planting, growing, and harvesting of a wide variety of olives to capture unique qualities and distinctive flavors; of the mill and press, and cold pressing to extract oil from the fruit. Then participate in an olive oil tasting – so full-flavored and fresh! There is nothing else quite like it. Olive ranch tours are available with or without a grilled lunch. The motto here truly is ‘May olive your dreams come true.’ Currently planted are 26 acres/10.5 hectares. Groups up to 60 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
8. Leoness Cellars
Leoness Cellars is located along Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country’s De Portola Wine Trail. With over fifty years, combined agriculture and grape-growing experience in the Temecula Valley, Leoness Cellars has a true understanding of growing wine grapes of the highest quality which are concentrated, balanced, and ripe, ultimately producing wines of incredible depth and flavor. Among a variety of private group tours is Touch the Vine and Taste the Wine that includes an informative ride through the vineyards. Sip and savor as you learn about harvest, crush, fermentation, barrel aging, and the Leoness commitment to sustainable farming practices and crafting award-winning wines. Estate vineyard adjoining the winery is 20 acres/8 hectares. Approximate annual wine production is 30,000 cases. Groups up to 100 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
9. Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery
Garnering a reputation for exceptional quality in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, Palumbo Family Vineyards & Winery is committed to small lot, handcrafted wines from varieties that are grown on their own small block, sustainably farmed vineyards. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sangiovese, Viognier, and Syrah. Specializing in full-bodied reds, Palumbo’s artisanal offerings include both single variety bottling as well as a few special blends like the very popular Meritage called ‘Tre Fratelli.’ The tour of the vineyard estate and winery cellar is informative; and the wine tasting that follows earnestly reflects the Palumbo passion and commitment. Estate vineyard adjoining the winery is 13 acres/5 hectares. Approximate annual wine production is 2,500 cases. Groups up to 30 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
10. Callaway Vineyard & Winery
Callaway Vineyard & Winery’s farming philosophy seeks to sustain the long-term viability of the land. Many nesting boxes and perches are nestled throughout the vineyards encouraging a stable population of hawks and owls. Cover crops are encouraged between vineyard rows to provide habitat for beneficial insects. The time-honored, Callaway winemaking tradition uses unusually cold temperatures to slow and prolong the fermentation process, allowing the wines to retain their natural fruit flavors and aromas. Private in-depth, demonstration vineyard and winery, group tours are available with wine tasting, wine and cheese tasting, wine and dessert tasting, and wine tasting and box lunch or luncheon buffet. Estate vineyard adjoining the winery is 20 acres/8 hectares. Approximate annual wine production is 25,000 cases. Groups up to 100 people welcome by advance reservation year-round.
*Information is believed accurate but may be subject to change.