Bike Your Way Through Southern California’s Wine Country

Southern California's Temecula Valley contains over 30 wineries and the best way to experience it all is on a bicycle. Whether you want an easy trek or a day-long excursion, we'll guide you through where to rent and where to stop.
Illustration by Brian A. Clark

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.

Monte de Oro
Monte de Oro / Illustration by Brian A. Clark

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.

Avensole Winery
Avensole Winery / Illustration by Brian A. Clark

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.

Exploring California's Santa Lucia Highlands

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.

Published on May 17, 2018
Topics: California
About the Author
Matt Kettmann
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from California.

A fifth generation Californian originally from San Jose, Matt Kettmann covers California’s Central Coast and South Coast for the magazine. He is also the senior editor of The Santa Barbara Independent, where he’s worked since 1999, has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, Wine Spectator, and Smithsonian, and co-founded New Noise Santa Barbara, a music festival.

Email: mkettmann@wineenthusiast.net.




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