September has always been a special time for wine growers and enthusiasts. It signals the start of harvest time throughout the state when grapes are picked and the crushing commences.
In time for the harvest, visitors to Temecula’s Wine Country are invited to sample some of the region’s finest wines at a discounted price. The event features a SIP Passport tied to the state’s California Wine Month celebration.
“The winegrowers are knee-deep in grapes, fruit and barrels,” said Peggy Evans, executive director for the Temecula Winegrowers Association. “It’s a crazy month to do this, but the wineries bite the bullet because the tourists love it. Guests love to see the action.”
Throughout the month of September, visitors will get a chance to visit five wineries for $40. Visitors can choose from the more than 30 wineries in the Temecula area, but the pass must be used by Sept. 30.
The passport is the region’s way of celebrating California Wine Month.
The state has celebrated California Wine Month for the past seven years. And each year, the events grow. The business attracts almost 21 million visitors a year and had retail sales topping $18 billion in 2010 and U.S. wine exports topped $1 billion , said Wine Institute spokesperson Nancy Light.
“The timing of September — this is when it all comes together,” she said. “The harvest starts now — a culmination of a year’s work and reminds us this is an agricultural business.”
Light said wineries have done well in popularity, because they can be found in any region and make a great day trip for California residents.
“Temecula is typical of the rebirth of the wine industry in California,” Light said. “The California wine month focuses on regions all over the state. It’s an awareness of California wines. They say a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Temecula Valley really got into the state celebration a few years ago when the Wine County created the SIP passport.
“We did it last minute a couple years ago and sold 1,200 tickets,” Evans said. “We are going to double that number this year.”
The centerpiece of Temecula Wine Country’s celebration is the CRUSH event on Sept. 10, where guests can sip wines from all 34 wineries for $65. Tickets are still available and on sale.
“This is just another reason to come and visit,” Evans said. “It’s a way to kind of celebrate the harvest . . . It’s fun for the customers and the wineries love having visitors.”
The wineries have partnered with area hotels and transportation groups to offer special Sip & Stay packages:
-Grapeline Wine County Shuttle offers a full day of hosted transportation around wine country, including a SIP Passport and a souvenir glass.
-West Coast Chauffer and Transportation provides wine tasting in a private limousine or car, including a SIP Passport, souvenir glass and a wine tour tailored to the customer.
Those who want to visit the Wine Country and stay in the area to spread out tastings over a few days can purchase hotel packages.
-South Coast Winery Resort & Spa offers a Sunday-through-Thursday package that features two SIP Passports, souvenir glasses and rooms at the resort.
-Embassy Suites in Temecula offers rooms including two SIP Passports and souvenir glasses.
-Temecula Creek Inn includes a one-night stay plus two SIP Passports and souvenir glasses.
-The Temecula Fairfield Inn & Suites has a room package for a one-night stay that includes two SIP Passports, souvenir glasses and breakfast for two.
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