The landing site was Ontario, Calif., and the first 30 miles of the drive from the airport did not impress. More sprawl than squalor, but not a place I'd particularly want to live (or visit).
In due time we got off I-15 and into a town called Temeculah, and the landscape picked up immediately. I'm not sure where they get their water from in this arid region, but they're using it well. The plantings at our destination were particularly lush.
The South Coast Winery Resort & Spa lives up to all parts of its name except "coast" (there's nary a wave in sight). Its accommodations are cool and warm, the facilities top-notch. But what's going to lure folks to this area an hour northeast of San Diego is the "winery" part, with a couple dozen of them already established and more on the way.
Callaway might be the only name familiar to Minnesota wine consumers, but more are on the way. The wines I sampled from South Coast and Wilson Creek were quite tasty.
Temeculah was on this vinous path in the late 1990s, but an insect called the glassy-winged sharpshooter hammered the vineyards a decade ago, and it took years for the recovery to, uh, take root.
So now Temeculah is a nice place to visit, and I would want to eat and drink, if not live, there.