Temecula Valley, within an hour's drive of San Diego, Palm Springs or Orange County, bills itself as Southern California's Wine Country. Though it got a later start than its better known northern California counterparts—pioneers like Mount Palomar and Callaway set up shop in the late 1960s—the Temecula Valley today is home to nearly 40 wineries. There is also a thriving "wine country" scene here with resorts, restaurants, tours and activities geared toward wine tourism. The scenery alone is a draw, with rolling hills and seasonal snow-capped peaks. Many Temecula wineries take advantage of the grape-loving warm days and cool nights (many are at altitude and affected by the Pacific Ocean fogs and breezes) to produce extensive portfolios of different wines. There is surely something here for everyone's taste. —Richard Nalley
Winemaker of the Year
F&W honors a Napa winemaker known for his hands-off style.
Best American Wines Under $20
F&W honors eight new American value wines.
Best Wines $20 and Under
F&W honors eight great-value American wines.
American Wine Awards 2009
F&W's 12th annual American Wine Awards honor a shrewd importer, several terrific winemakers and great bottles that are also great values.
F&W honors Celia Masyczek, maker of some of Napa's most esteemed wines.
F&W's eighth annual American Wine Awards celebrates two terrific back-to-back vintages in California (2001 and 2002) as well as some top artisanal winemakers. The winners were selected by a panel of 32 experts who tasted thousands of bottlings in their effort to choose this year's best.