With gently rolling hills, a dry, warm climate and grapevines as far as the eye can see, the Temecula Valley can look a lot like Tuscany. But unlike the Italian countryside, this Southern California region is jam-packed with tasting rooms. Cycling, on your own or with a tour, can be the most eye-opening way to discover the area, where more than 30 wineries and about 1,300 acres of vineyards attract an excess of 2 million visitors each year.
When to go: Year-round, except when it’s blisteringly hot in the dead of summer or during rare rainstorms.
What it costs: For a $65 rental fee, Pedal to the Medal’s fully equipped, fat-tired Cannondale bike comes with helmet, handlebar bag, lock, cold drink, snack, map and route suggestions. It’s yours from 10 am–6 pm, and the outfitter can come pick up the bike from wherever you end up with one quick call.
For a long haul: Follow the advice of Eric Tallaksen, owner of Pedal to the Medal, and head down to Monte de Oro and neighboring Wilson Creek, then ride over to Lorenzi Estate, Cougar and more. Back track a bit so you can end your day with the dirt downhill along Camino del Vino road on the way to Robert Renzoni and Leoness Cellars. Both offer great food alongside the region’s better wines.
To take it easy: For an easy three-hour trek, start at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa (where you should try the bubbly). From there, drop down the main road to experience Avensole Winery and its refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. Cruise through the vineyard to check out Maurice Car’rie Winery, one of the region’s oldest operations, with vines that go back to the late 1960s. Its Van Roekel Estate wines, especially the Grenache and the Petite Sirah, are great with the famous baked Brie in sourdough loaf, a gooey mess of rich cheese and bread that’s ample reward for the exercise.
Rev your engine: If this all sounds overwhelming, opt for a guided tour from Temecula Electric Bikes. The pedal-free operation offers a two-hour scenic tour ($49) and a four-hour tasting tour ($79), as well as self-guided e-bike rental options.