Like Rodney Dangerfield, Temecula does not get a ton of respect. It and its surrounding areas have golf courses, casinos, spas and wineries. It is a great place for locals to hang out. It just does not have enough cachet or buzz surrounding it to warrant making it a real desirable destination. According to some oenophiles, the terroir there is pretty suitable for growing grapes. Others feel that the wine produced there is imbued with high pH levels due to the hot temperatures and dry soil, which results in wine that is too sweet. The wine makers have tried to adapt their processes by tweaking the grapes they plant, managing the crops and tinkering with the wine post harvest. In many respects, the wine makers are leading the charge to garner more respect for the area, which is located about 100 miles from where I live in West Los Angeles.
As I am not a golfer, gambler, spa goer or wine enthusiast, I have never considered going to Temecula. Even though I am a native Los Angelino and have lived in Los Angeles for sixty plus years, I have never been there, though I was in the vicinity of it several times as a child in the late 50s and early 60s when my family vacationed at the then infamous Murrieta Hot Springs Resort. I have driven by Temecula the few times I have taken the inland route up to LA from San Diego, but I have never felt compelled to stop.
Temecula does have a cool name, though. It is an Indian/Spanish name that, depending on what reference you choose to believe, either means the place where the sun shines through the mist or means where the sand met the sun to create the world. Lofty meaning for a reasonably pedestrian place with a less than stellar reputation. Possibly more accurate but definitely more amusing is that the Urban Dictionary’s top definition of Temecula is, “A sunny place filled with shady people.”
Last weekend I finally had a reason to go to Temecula. I, along with 40 or so of my PCA Los Angeles cronies, met in Corona and then drove to Temecula. Our destination was the Monte De Oro Winery. I did not go for the wine. In fact, I did not drink any. I went for the joy of driving my Cayman. What mattered to me was the terrain, not the terroir. Thankfully, the terrain included hills, valleys, and twisties, which made the drive to the winery fun, but as with the rest of Temecula, not stellar. We had about 30 Porsches and, curiously, one Jensen Healey on the drive, which traversed various back roads for 66 miles from where we started in Corona. My PCA friend, David, did a great job of selecting a route that enabled us to get the most enjoyment out of our cars. The route consisted of a nice blend of sweeping turns, long straights, and stop signs, which enabled many of us to enjoy unbridled accelerations.
I got an early start on the day of the drive. My PCA friend Mark, the Mark with whom I go on drives, not the Mark from whom I buy cars, and I met in West Los Angeles before we embarked on the drive to Corona. Before meeting Mark I had to get the Cayman washed and make a trip to Starbucks for coffee, which I placed in the least functional feature of the Cayman, its cup holders.
Mark and I had a great drive to Corona. We only made one wrong turn, which, frankly, was somewhat pathetic, as we both had our NAV systems guiding us. We were kibitzing on our cell phones, which overrode the audio feature of the NAV system, causing us to miss transitioning to the 15 when we should have. Realizing our mistake, we turned around. At that point, I opted to take advantage of the detour and stopped at McDonald’s and then at the gas station before heading the last few miles to Corona.
I arrived in Corona, took a much needed pit stop, signed the de rigueur insurance forms and chatted with my friends until it was time to head to the winery. We left in two run groups. Mark and I were in the first one, which got split up a couple of times due to traffic signals. I had the Cayman in manual Sport Plus mode for most of the ride. I used the paddles to control the shift points, enabling me to rev the engine and really enjoy the sound of my naturally aspirated flat six. It was good for the Cayman to get out on the open road, as it had been confined to city driving for the past few months. Mark and I continued to chit chat on the ride to the winery. Our conversation included some mundane topics and some important ones, like the readout on his speedometer at various points in time. In theory, the second group left 15 minutes after we did. I can only assume that they left early because they arrived at the winery about five minutes after us, and we were not dawdling on the drive.
The winery was very nice. We enjoyed lunch on the patio overlooking the vineyards and the surrounding valley. While the views were not spectacular, they were very pleasant, even if I did gripe about the lack of scenery suitable for photographs. After an hour of socializing and eating, it was time to head home. That’s when things took a slight turn for the worse. I knew the ride home would be irritating. I expected a certain amount of traffic. That was one of the main reasons I chose to take the Cayman, as I did not want to clutch myself to death on the way back. What I was surprised about was the distance, as I had not given it much thought until I sat in the Cayman and set the NAV to my home address. At that time I was shocked to see it was a tad over100 miles. Oh well.
Despite the distance and the traffic, the ride home was fun. Mark was using Waze to plot his route. I wasn’t. At one point he exited the freeway and took a detour hoping to save some time and avoid some traffic. I took the long way around, staying on the freeway, bypassing the 91, ignoring my NAV and going up the 15 all the way to the 60. We kept up a running conversation along the way and I thought I was about an exit behind him until I caught up at the East LA interchange, putting a smile on my face and leaving me with a good feeling about Temecula.