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Temecula’s ‘Wine Country’

Just east of Temecula in southwestern Riverside County lies a cluster of vineyards and wineries collectively referred to as Temecula Valley Wine Country. Though not nearly as well-known as California’s famous Napa Valley nor even the Central Coast vineyards of Santa Barbara County (which garnered prominent recognition in “Sideways“), Temecula’s Wine Country nonetheless is an up-and-coming wine producing region (and weekend tourist destination). Yet the area’s proximity to fast-growing San Diego and Los Angeles has also kept the vineyards busy fighting off increasing suburban encroachment.

In response, the Riverside County Planning Commission recently reviewed the area’s general plan, recommending the county strengthen the current zoning ordinance of 1 dwelling unit per 5 acres — w/ limited clustering of dwellings in exchange for vineyards — by adding the restriction of non-vineyard uses to 1 dwelling unit per 10 acres.

In essence, the amendment makes non-vineyard uses economically infeasible for developers, thereby encouraging the incorporation of vineyards into new developments. Likewise, in order to enforce the vineyard provision in exchange for dwelling clustering, the ordinance requires planting before building permits are issued.

Karen Ross, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, believes the requirements that developers’ plant grapes and wineries use local grapes will balance each other out.

She said Napa has a law requiring wineries to use local grapes and that Livermore Valley, east of the Bay Area, has a law requiring developers to plant agriculture, including vineyards. She doesn’t know of any area in the state with a situation like that proposed in the Temecula Valley Wine Country.

“I applaud them for their creativity,” Ross said by telephone from Sacramento. “Otherwise it’s going to get paved over before someone says, ‘Gee, I wish we would have…'”

Riverside Press-Enterprise – December 18, 2005

To help account for anticipated increase in vineyard acreage — and potential glut of grapes — the new ordinance stipulates all wineries — both existing and future — must use 75% locally-grown grapes in their wine production:

County supervisors are expected to vote on the proposals in January 2006.

Photos: Temecula


Wine country photo courtesy of

Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20051218)

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added additional photos; updated Related content links; removed outdated links to newspaper article; removed outdated photo gallery link.

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