Chardonnay in them there hills…

Above: many private gated, luxury communities in the Temecula, CA wine country have names like “the Vineyards,” “the Harvest,” or “Chardonnay Hills.”

Chardonnay is the name of the prevalent white grape variety grown in Chablis, Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, and the Mâconnais (Burgundy, France). Chardonnay is a toponym, the name of a village near Mâcon (Burgundy, France), where some believe the Chardonnay grape originated (perhaps once called Pinot Chardonnay or Pineau Chardonnay).*

Chardonnay Hills is the name of a luxurious gated community in Temecula, California.

Chardonnay is also a label that many California winemakers use for their oaky, buttery bottlings of 100% Chardonnay, which generally don’t taste anything like naturally vinified, traditional-style Chardonnay.

Above: it should take you about 30 minutes by car to get to Chardonnay from Mâcon (according to Google Maps).

This morning, my mother and I enjoyed a leisurely drive from Palm Springs (where we spent the holiday with family) to San Diego, stopping in Temecula, this time to drive through the wine country (on the way up, we made a quick stop in Old Town Temecula for lunch). The altitude climbs gently as you drive up Rancho California Road from Interstate 15. About a quarter of an hour from the freeway, you find yourself in a small valley lined with vineyards and wineries. I imagine vine growers decided to plant here because of the altitude and the breeze that blows through what is now called the Temecula Valley American Viticultural Area.

Above: some of the private roads in the Temecula wine country are lined with Cypress trees like in Tuscany.

Do not attempt this at home! I snapped this pic of a tumbleweed from the driver’s seat. I imagine that the same breeze blowing the tumbleweed helps to provide ventilation to Temecula vineyards.

* Some believe the toponym originates from the Latin cardus or “thistle” (akin to the English cardoon).

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