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Wine making in California began over 200 years ago. Father Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary, established Mission San Juan Capistrano in the area known as San Diego and planted the first known vineyard in 1779. He then established 21 more missions along the coast of California up to Sonoma, which is now known as highway 1 and part of highway 101, and at each mission he began cultivating vineyards. Originally, the first wines were produced for sacramental purposes and everyday needs. Since then, the wine industry continued to flourish at an astounding rate, which resulted in California becoming the fourth largest producer of wine in the world behind Italy, France, and Spain.

In the 1960’s, the wine industry began to change as well as consumer desires. Dry wines became increasingly popular while sweeter wines lost their appeal. A plethora of new wineries were developed and in 1976 California wineries won first place in both the red and white categories in the competition between the best French and California wines. Soon after, California became known as one of the top wine producing regions in the world.

As sales and production soared in the late 1970’s, California wines expanded into the global market. In order to meet this growing demand the number of wineries increased from 227 to approximately 800 between the years of 1960 and 1995.

 

The name Temecula comes from the Luisano Indian word “Temecunga,” -temet is translated into “sun” and -unga into “place of,” loosely translated into Place of the Sun. The Spanish interpreted and spelled the word as “Temecula.” Over time, the meaning of the word has been changed into different versions of this interpretation, such as, “Where the sun breaks through the mist.” Temecula is the only city in California to retain its original Indian name.

Temecula’s wine history began when a man by the name of Joe Moramarco gave his son, John, the advice that good wine grapes could be raised in higher portions of the Pauba in Temecula. He said, “A cool breeze blows here, that you don’t get north or south of here.” The combination of the ocean breeze, the dry and fairly warm climate, and the well-drained decomposed granite soils create wines with fresh, distinctive tastes, and generate a variety of flavors. Situated approximately 1500 feet above sea level, the 3,000 acres of vineyards in Temecula Valley provide ideal conditions for growing the finest wine grapes.

In 1968, an entrepreneur by the name of Ely Callaway bought 150 acres north of Rancho California Road and started the first winery in Temecula, appropriately named Callaway Vineyard & Winery. September of 1974 marks the month when the first grape crush took place and later the winery released its first commercial wines a little over a year later in 1975.

Now, about twenty wineries and 3,000 acres of vineyards flourish in Temecula Valley offering breathtaking scenery and delicious locally made wines at affordable prices. The success of these wineries has resulted in numerous awards and recognition of Temecula as a world-class wine growing region. As a result of all this recognition Temecula Valley Wine Country has become a well-renowned tourist and location.

 
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