Temecula Valley Recovers


“Sharpshooter” is a dirty word in California’s Temecula Valley. Mike Dunne of the Sacramento Bee recalls a time seven years ago when “the glassy-winged sharpshooter was proliferating in Riverside County, especially in the Temecula Valley, where it was spreading Pierce’s disease, which clogs the circulatory system of grapevines, blocking their flow of nutrients and ultimately killing them.” Until the sharpshooter hit town, 2,500 acres had been planted with wine grapes and family wineries were “trying to show that despite the valley’s heat and aridity, they could make wines as fine as any in California.”

Dunne notes that Pierce’s disease “wiped out about 1,000 acres of vines, the building of wineries virtually ceased, and much hand-wringing over the future of the area commenced.” However, the Temecula Valley has since rebounded:

But today, the Temecula Valley’s wine trade is on a rebound. A combination of insecticides and predatory wasps that feast on the eggs of the glassy-winged sharpshooter has brought the pest under control, though it remains a threat to wine grapes throughout the state, not just in Temecula Valley.

But because of these largely effective controls on the sharpshooter, land devoted to wine grapes in Temecula Valley stands at around 1,500 acres and again is growing, says Phil Baily, whose Baily Vineyard & Winery is the fourth-oldest winery in the region, dating from 1986.

What’s more, the area has more wineries than ever, 26, compared with 16 five years ago, and more are in the works.

The Temecula Valley is also different than other regions because it has intentionally tried to keep a balance between farming and non-farming enterprises. The South Coast Winery Resort and Spa is one example of that, according to Dunne. The area has a small, family-owned rural feel, but still produces award-winning wines, such as two viogniers that tied for best South Coast wine at the California State Fair (the Filsinger Vineyards & Winery 2005 Temecula Valley Viognier ($15) and La Cereza Vineyards 2005 Temecula Valley Viognier ($25)).

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Reader Comments

SO happy to hear this!
I used to camp there as a young boy scout and have always loved Temecula.
I think that Wild Horse Peak Mtn is a special place and have had wine from it, nice going!

In doing research for this post, I decided that I must to go to the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa. The place looks amazing!

I live not far from Temecula, and can vouch that a day of wine tasting there is a day well spent! The South Coast campus has been a nice addition — bringing a bit of the commercial feel into what was otherwise an area dominated by mom and pop operations.

I’m serious - I will go there!