In 1968 Vicenzo Cilurzo and his wife Audrey planted grape vines in the Temecula Valley, sparking the first phase of what would become Southern California's wine country.
Today the Temecula Valley has become a renowned tourist destination for Southern Californians with its myriad wineries serving up everything from Italian-inspired reds to sweet whites. Many of those wineries take home awards in state and national competitions.
The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association and several wineries are doing some special things to celebrate Wine Country's 50th anniversary, from social media campaigns to dinners.
Memories of Wine Country emerge on social media
Fifty years of Temecula Valley Wine Country means 50 years of memories made. The Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association is asking people to share those memories in a couple key ways.
One of those ways is on the association's website, temeculawines.org. There's an entire page dedicated to the 50th anniversary full of the stories and photos from years past.
"There is a place for folks to go in and share their stories," TVWGA Executive Director Krista Chaich said. "It doesn't have to be 50 years ago, it doesn't have to be 30 years ago."
People can also share their memories and historic photos of Temecula Valley Wine Country on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #cheersto50years.
A special red wine blend
Several wineries have been hard at work to put together a limited edition commemorative regional wine for the 50th anniversary. The wine will be 50 percent Syrah, 26 percent Grenache and 24 percent Mourvedre and could be out on shelves as early as a month from now.
A very happy birthday
To some, turning 50 may seem like an unappealing milestone, but turning 50 this year in Temecula Valley Wine Country could turn out to be a lot of fun.
Visitors to Thornton Winery who show proof either that it's their 50th birthday or their 50th wedding anniversary will receive a free 50th anniversary commemorative wineglass. They can also receive an extra taste of NV Brut sparkling wine with the purchase of a tasting.
Though Thornton Winery is the only winery where a TVWGA commemorative glass is offered, several other participating wineries are offering perks to guests that hit that special milestone.
Wiens Family Cellars is offering two additional tastes of wine per paid tasting and a Wiens logo glass; Wilson Creek Winery is offering 50 percent off an upper room tasting experience (reservation required); Palumbo Family Vineyards is offering 15 percent off the purchase of two or more wine bottles; and Oak Mountain Winery is offering $5 off an entree at the Cave Cafe with the purchase of another entree. Several other wineries are offering specials and discounts as well. A full list of participating wineries and their offerings is on the association's website.
Dinner among the vines
A special dinner limited to 50 guests will take place among the vines at Wilson Creek Winery in advance of Crush 2018 – a Wine and Culinary Showcase.
Chaich said registration for the dinner will be done on the Temecula Valley Winegrower's Association website and the first 50 to sign up will be the attendees.
The dinner, an upscale barbecue, will take place in just the right location.
"We're actually just parallel to one of the original 1968 vineyards," Chaich said.
There are plenty of other ways to celebrate Temecula Valley Wine Country's 50th Anniversary. There will be special stay packages at select hotels; special commemorative memorabilia at the visitors' center in Old Town Temecula; and special videos on the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association website throughout the year.
For more information on all the 50th anniversary fun, visit temeculawines.org.